Sure, some of our bigger companies have done some ‘sketchy’ stuff in the past but chances are you’ve never heard about this one. Back in the 1960s, Nestle turned to third world countries to sell their formula and in doing so, caused the deaths of thousands of innocent children.
Nestle’s instant formula had horrible repercussions in places like South America and Africa. Because of this formula, many babies lost their lives. Basically, Nestle dressed saleswomen up as nurses and sent them out to sell their product. These ‘nurses’ went to homes and hospitals spreading the word of this ‘magic formula.’ They offered new mothers advice on nutrition and really pushed this formula on them. In Singapore, they became such a distraction that they were banned from hospitals.
Business Insider says that one mother’s recount of a ‘milk nurse’s’ sales pitch as follows:
“The nurse began by saying …. breastfeeding was best. She then went on detail the supplementary foods that the breastfed baby would need … The nurse was implying that it was possible to start with a proprietary baby milk from birth, which would avoid these unnecessary problems.”
They basically did all that they could to make women think that by merely giving them breast milk they were putting their babies at risk. Due to this, many women became afraid, and their milk dried up. In turn, they had to purchase formula supplements to feed their infants. Hospitals were also accused of pushing the formula on these mothers as they received freebies for sending new moms home with ‘discharge packs’ of formula.
As these women were poor and lived in third world countries, many could not afford the formula so they would do all they could to try and make it last longer. These formulas had to be mixed with water, but the mothers did not know the dangers of overdiluting the formula or the dangers associated with the contaminated water they were using to do so. With some families making no more than seven dollars a week in some of these areas mothers were diluting the formula with water as much as three times the recommended amount.
This caused tons of babies to die from malnutrition. Their bodies literally wasted away. For those who did survive, their growth was severely hindered and they were not as emotionally advanced as others. War on Want exposed Nestle for this back in the 70s but of course, Nestle sued them and won. The judge merely urged them to modify their publicity methods and continue on.
That being said, a boycott of Nestle did end up getting regulations set in place. One such regulation was a code of how the baby food could and could not be promoted especially in third world countries. However, many still claim these guidelines are broken time and time again in modern days.
This is not something we should forget. Things like this have happened all throughout the past and if we do not pay attention the past will repeat itself eventually.
Image via Asia News