SWITZERLAND – Nestlé has reported on its compliance with its policy and procedures implementing the WHO International Code on the responsible marketing of breastmilk substitutes (the WHO Code), based on audits and monitoring undertaken in 2019.

This follows the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other civil society organizations making a Call to Action to all manufacturers of breast milk substitute (BMS) to make a public commitment to and achieve full compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and all its subsequent resolutions (the Code) by 2030.

This is in order to help ensure that all infants and young children worldwide are optimally breastfed and eat a healthy diet.

It also calls to committing to support the adoption and implementation of national legislation fully aligned with the Code in order to create a level playing field for all companies.

In addition, manufacturers were urged to agree to provide information on their company’s policies and practices to the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) as requested, recognizing ATNI as an independent actor responsible for monitoring companies’ progress toward their plans for achieving Code compliance.

Nestle on its part has noted that, a crucial part of this journey is breastfeeding, which provides the best start in life.

“We are committed to promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding, and we recognize that when breast milk is not available, infant formula is the only suitable alternative, according to the World Health Organization (WHO),” it stated.

The company recognizes the need to continuously improve and has taken steps to further increase transparency, reporting publicly on challenges, cases of non-compliance as well as corrective actions.

Leanne Geale, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Governance and Compliance, said, “Transparency is a fundamental element of trust. Being transparent with our stakeholders is the basis for honest dialogue and accountability.”

The report highlights methods used to detect non-compliance instances to include use of internal Monitoring, Nestlé Internal Audit, external allegations, external verifications and internal and external grievance mechanisms.

When cases of non-compliance were discovered, the practices were immediately stopped and the necessary actions taken to address them.

Nestlé acknowledges the need to continuously train its employees and distributor staff on the importance of implementing the WHO Code.

Also, interactions with the healthcare system and healthcare workers remains an area of vigilance where the company has published its policies and controls.

“Nestlé takes compliance with the WHO Code very seriously. It relies on a comprehensive compliance and governance model that allows the company to apply the rules consistently across all the countries in which it operates,” it stated.

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