Canada – Outrageous claims, a key marketing tool

Code Violations
Labelling

Nestlé

Nestlé S.A.
Avenue Nestlé 55
1800 Vevey
Switzerland
+1 800-225-2270

www.Nestlé.com

Claims prohibited by the International Code and subsequent WHA resolutions are found on the labels of Nestlé Good Start Bon Depart 1 Ready-to-Feed baby formula which are sold in Quebec, Canada. The company uses outrageous health claim such as “DHA supports normal physical brain and eye development” on the label to promote the product. Not only does it idealise the use of the infant formula which violates the International Code, emphasising “normal development” also incites parents’ fear of development that is not “normal”.

Labelling violations are very common and they usually include idealising claims and promotional logos for different product formulations. Such blatant and inappropriate labelling strategies may influence parents in making their infant feeding decisions and discourage breastfeeding.

A variety of claims on Good Start Bon Depart 1 Ready-to-Feed formula– clearly promotes bottle-feeding from birth and undermines exclusive breastfeeding.

A check on the Nestlé Baby Canada website shows that there is a new packaging design for the product and it appears that the idealising claim (DHA supports normal physical brain and eye development) and the promotional logos indicating product components (see picture above) have been removed. On the new packaging, even though the company uses subtler plain texts such as “DHA ADH – Brain & Eye” and “Small Proteins – Easy to Digest”, it is still idealising the use of the product, nonetheless. A change in the packaging design and how claims appear on the label does not change the fact that the company still violates the International Code.

Nestlé also uses similar outrageous health claims on their website to promote the product (see screen shots taken from the website below).

Retrieved from https://www.nestlebaby.ca/en/good-start-DHA-ready-feed, accessed on 24 May 2019)

(Retrieved from https://www.nestlebaby.ca/en/good-start-DHA-ready-feed, accessed on 23 May 2019)

The same Good Start Bon Depart 1 in powdered form is also sold in Quebec, Canada and idealising statement “Our best for baby’s nutrition” is clearly seen on the label. Similar promotional logos to indicate the different product components on the Ready-To-Feed version (see above) are found on this version as well.

The best nutrition for babies is found in breastmilk and it is FREE!

Similar to the Good Start Bon Depart 1 Ready-to-Feed baby formula, the product in powdered form appears to have also changed to a new packaging as shown on the website (see screenshots from website below). The same texts such as “DHA ADH – Brain & Eye” and “Small Proteins – Easy to Digest” are used on the product label instead of promotional logos to idealise the use of the product.

(Retrieved from https://www.nestlebaby.ca/en/nestle-good-start-probiotic-DHA, accessed on 23 May 2019)

In Canada, the focus seems to be on non-genetically modified (non-GMO) formula products which the company claims to be its closest formula to breastmilk.

One of the major claims Nestlé makes across many of its formula products is about the probiotics the company uses to fortify its products. Although several studies have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support long-term benefits of probiotic-supplemented formula products, Nestlé continues to ride on this probiotic concept. For example, this Good Start Bon Depart 1 powdered infant formula is being promoted as “the only non-GMO baby formula with Probiotics” and that it contributes towards the baby’s healthy gut flora – ALL are claims which idealise the use of formula and discourage breastfeeding!

Retrieved from https://www.nestlebaby.ca/en/nestle-good-start-probiotic-DHA, accessed on 23 May 2019)

The company clearly does not refrain from using unsubstantiated nutrition and health claims to promote its products