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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Breast Milk Formula

In my post on selling breast milk, a reader left a comment about Enfamil calling their formula as "The Breast Milk Formula". I took a screen shot:
You can see the claim "The Breast Milk Formula" on the tab and upper part of the screen shot. If this not unethical marketing, then I don't know what is. Motherwear's Tanya also blogged about this here.

In the Philippines, the applicable law is Executive Order No. 51 (2o October 1986), otherwise known as the "National Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Breastmilk Supplements and Other Related Products" which regulates the advertising and promotion of breastmilk substitutes. Its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations issued by the Department of Health on 15 May 2006 was the subject of a huge controversy and court case. And contrary to the International Milk Code (which stipulates that there should be absolutely no promotion of breastmilk substitutes), the Philippine Supreme Court struck down provisions on the absolute prohibition of advertising, promotions, sponsorship or marketing materials for breastmilk substitutes and the adminstrative sanctions for violations of the rules and regulations. I've been meaning to make a digest (summary) of this case, which I will reserve for a future post.

I read a lot of parenting magazines and noticed that there have been several ads by formula companies promoting there products. Here are some samples:
These ads came from Smart Parenting - June 2008 issue and Baby Magazine's June 2009 issue and are both full page ads. There are many other ads in magazines, newspapers espousing the benefits of formula milk.
Aside from print ads, formula companies are very aggressive in releasing advertisements on TV. Here are a few ads running in Philippine television.

Pediasure Plus

Lactum Panatag


Enfakid - broken vase

The advertisements that I hate the most are those of Lactum and Enfa A+, which I believe are both manufactured by MeadJohnson. I am surprised that there is a Boycott Nestle organization but no boycott MeadJohnson action. In my experience, MeadJohnson is worse than Nestle in terms of unethical marketing.
When I gave birth, the hospital gave be an Enfamil hospital bag, which came with some free formula samples, a diaper changing pad, an ice cooler pack and a water bottle especially for mom. Subsequently, at Naima's 1st well-baby check-up, we received another cooler bag with formula milk again from Enfamil. Even during my consultation with my lactation consultant, I received Enfamilk Lipil from her after she informed me that I was not producing enough milk since Naima was only getting about 1 oz per session (she used a scale before and after feeding times).
As I mentioned, Lactum and the Enfa A+ commercials are the ones I hate the most. In the Lactum commercials, the celebrity moms promote Lactum to help your child gain complete nutrition, especially for picky eaters. While watching this commercial, I get the message that it's ok if your child is a very picky eater, e.g. eats fried chicken all the time, as long as she drinks Lactum. Lactum comes with the tagline "be a 100% nourished kid" and if you read closely enough, there is a disclaimer - "when coupled with a balanced diet". What a contradiction!
The Enfa A+ commercial I hate is the one where a woman (I believe its Daphne Osena) talks about how your child can gain +7 IQ points and shows a video of a nursery, some books and ends with a suggestion to the parents to ask your doctor how your child can gain +7IQ points. Throughout the commercial, no milk brand is being said or shown. However, at the bottom right corner of the screen, there is a symbol "A+" (which refers to MeadJohnson's Enfa products). So does it mean that I need to feed my daughter Enfa A+ products for her to get those +7 IQ points?!! A Filipina mom blogger explains how the study is inaccurately used by MeadJohnson to support its claim about the +7IQ points. I have been trying to get a Youtube copy of that voiceover A+ commercial but could not find it.
Enfa was also involved in another marketing issue, this time through a print ad in the Philippine Daily Inquirer as explained here. Really, I think it is high time for a MeadJohnson boycott aside from the Nestle one!


kate demetrio said...

We should still report this violations to DOH... sometimes they lost track of where this companies post their "deceiving" ads (magazines, papers) which really undermines breastfeeding. We can report any violations to the Milk Code to BFAD or to DOH-National Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Jenny said...

hi katrina! when i get a copy of the enfa a+ ad i will definitely report it

Anonymous said...

This is really very informative, I just loved reading it, keep posts like this coming, I am going to bookmark it right away, keep posting like this!

Nicole using Avent Isis
these days!

Jenny said...

thanks for dropping by, candy! let me know if there are specific topics you want to read about. thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

hello! thanx for this post! its very informative! I've read at the side of this page that you're breasting for 18 months now. Im quite amazed with that duration. Im actually planning to breastfeed my son up to 3 years. I know that my milk is his greatest need because he has Down's syndrome. He is 5 months now. But my milk is getting lesser. Im afraid I may not cath up with his needs and mix his feedings with formula. I pump my milk 3 times a day using medela mini electric plus. Can you give me advices how u made 18 months breastfeeding posible. Thanx! I'm desperately needing answers as I dont want to use formula milk

Jenny said...

@mfdeborja - thanks for dropping by! I have this post entitled Maintaining My Milk supply (check the july archives). I hope this helps you. This is what I do and so far Naima is almost 21months and still nursing (no formula) although she eats a lot of solids!
Please read the post and feel free to email me if you have some more questions. To get my email address, click the "drop me a line" link at the left side of this page. :)

pankajsharma.separate said...

Thank you for sharing this with us, I appreciate it.

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