Nestlé box top scheme: I object

Ms Head Teacher
Bernard’s School

9th February 2011

Dear Ms Teacher

Nestlé box top scheme

I was sorry to read in the most recent newsletter a plea to parents to collect Nestlé box tops, and I wish to register my opposition to the Nestlé box-top scheme.

As the NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor for this area, I support the Nestlé boycott and I do not wish my son to be encouraged to ask for Nestlé products. Nestlé is the target of a boycott in 20 countries because of its unethical and irresponsible marketing of breastmilk substitutes.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF):

“Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute.”


Monitoring conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) shows Nestlé to be responsible for more violations of the marketing requirements than any other company. Nestlé is excluded from the relevant ethical investment lists produced by FTSE4Good because of these activities, which contribute to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants. Instead of making the required changes to its marketing policies and practices, Nestlé embarks on public relations exercises, attempting to improve its image. The box-top scheme fits this pattern.

If Nestlé really did care for children, it would stop its aggressive marketing of baby foods. And it would stop promoting unhealthy cereals to children. Nestlé makes much of its Shredded Wheat, even advertising it claiming “You’d never add salt. Neither would we.” But most Nestlé’s cereals do have high levels of added salt, according to Food Standards Agency definitions. The sugar content has also been criticised. It is not appropriate on health grounds for the school to encourage children to consume these products by promoting the box-top scheme, and goes against the school’s healthy eating policy, whereby you explicitly discourage unhealthy snacks, crisps and chocolate in the children’s lunches.

I would like to think that the school will look at the wider picture: what does a commercial relationship with the world’s most boycotted company teach the children? Nestlé’s generosity amounts to a penny per serving (much less than this in practice as many box tops will not be redeemed), so you could ask children to put by a penny each breakfast to send to the school, whether the breakfast is cereal or something healthier.

I for one would be more than willing to donate a book each term, rather than have Nestlé benefit from this free advertising directly at our children, and I feel confident that if other parents were aware of the global and local effects of their unethical practices, they would probably agree.

I have enclosed some further information. You can also look at http://www.babymilkaction.org/, and finally, I would be more than happy to come in and talk to you about this interesting subject!

Yours sincerely

Karen
Mother of Bernard
NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor

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