NEWS: The Real View of Free Formula Samples – Open Your Eyes

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
NEWS: The Real View of Free Formula Samples – Open Your Eyes
35
Sun, 04-22-2012 - 11:51pm

Whoopi Goldberg and friends on The View just threw a Molotov cocktail of ignorance into the middle of the Mommy Wars.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006

Historically, infant formula has been produced and marketed
by pharmaceutical companies. Their approach to marketing
was based on their well-established routines of "medical
detailing," the practice of contacting hospitals and medical
practitioners directly, providing them with free or discounted
products, and encouraging health workers to recommend their
brands (3). However, this method of marketing is quite
expensive. The manufacturers of infant formula saw that a
government nutrition assistance program could fulfil the same
functions at much lower cost. Thus the formula manufacturers
were among the strong advocates for creation of the WIC
program in the 1970s. WIC now handles the logistics of
distribution at little cost to the companies. As Cynthia Tuttle
put it, "The establishment of the WIC program provided
formula manufacturers with a new, very direct avenue of
marketing to one of their target audiences, and they were
quick to take advantage of this opportunity

No matter how much time I spend on this board, there is always something new to learn. The above quote from George Kent was in a link in the original article. I did not note the date it was written. Geneally, I do not like to link WIC to infant feeding choice because it turns into a political or class warfare discussion. Knowing what I know now, I see that WIC-infant formula are inextricably linked.

Sadly, I know an IBCLC who was talking with the local WIC office in order to provide some additional breastfeeding support to the WIC counselors. It was nixed. WIC decided instead to go with a "keep the baby out of the bed" training. :(

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006

Let’s be clear. Formula companies distribute free samples in hospitals for one reason: to sell more formula.

...the proposed ban on marketing is....about standing up for our freedom to make our own feeding choices, freedom from commercial influences in the one place where they certainly don’t belong—the hospital

Hear, hear. Kudos to Melissa Bartik!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006

I am sure that there are still a lot of women who believe that that ban on formula marketing in hospitals is about "choice". Here is a quote from SourceWatch:

Babyfeedingchoice.org is a website funded by the International Formula Council, an industry group of major infant formula manufacturers.

The domain name for the site was registered in May 2007 by Keith Keeney, from the Altanta, Georgia-based PR firm, The Kellen Company. [1]

On the website, the IFC state that "Mothers have the right to choose the best feeding option for their babies given their particular circumstances. ... Recently, government policies have been introduced in several states that would restrict a mother’s access to information about certain infant feeding options, as well as samples of infant formula. In states, such as New York, Massachusetts and California, there have been efforts to ban commercial infant formula samples and information, such as brochures, posters and educational items in hospitals. A proposed bill in California would have made it a criminal offense to market or distribute free samples of baby formula in hospital maternity units." [2]

They won the "Falsie Award" in 2007. http://banthebags.org/category/formula-propaganda/page/2

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006

The petition asserts that marketing of infant formula violates the World Health Organization's international code of marketing of breast-milk substitutes.

“That's not accurate,” says Mardi Mountford, executive vice president of the Atlanta-based International Formula Council, which represents U.S. infant formula manufacturers, including the three highlighted in the petition. “The [WHO]

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-16-2010
nisupulla wrote:

The petition asserts that marketing of infant formula violates the World Health Organization's international code of marketing of breast-milk substitutes.

“That's not accurate,” says Mardi Mountford, executive vice president of the Atlanta-based International Formula Council, which represents U.S. infant formula manufacturers, including the three highlighted in the petition. “The [WHO]

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006

Thank you for explaining what the IFC meant by "inconsistent with US Law.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-16-2010
nisupulla wrote:

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2008

<>

While it's true that the WHO code could not likely be adopted as a whole as currently written by law in the U.S. without the certain speech related element of the code being held to violate the 1st amendment by the Supreme Court, that does not mean that it could not be adopted in some modified form. The Supreme Court has allowed greater restriction on commercial speech then they have on non-commercial speech. This is why laws prohibiting misleading or false advertising are allowed or why the ban on tobacco advertising on TV still stands. They could probably get away with getting the formula companies to voluntarily go along with the speech related marketing restrictions in the U.S. by creating strong incentives to do so such. The government has been allowed by the Supreme Court to enforce certain restrictions on states by indirect means that would be prohibited by the constitution from being put into law directly. For example, the withholding of highway funds to states has been ruled as a constitutionally acceptable way for congress to coerce states to raise the drinking at to 21 even though they couldn't get away with a direct federal law raising the drinking age on all citizens. Thus it might they might be able to employ a similar tactic to enforce certain parts of the WHO code they could not enforce directly by federal law.

Regardless of whether the WHO code as whole would pass constitutional muster if passed into law, it is not illegal or unconstitutional for the formula companies to voluntarily adopt the WHO code and I strongly take issue with their attempts to misleads people into thinking the only reason they don't so is it would be unconstitutional or against U.S. policy. There is no U.S. policy that dictates wether the formula companies can adopt the WHO code or not. Any policy that does exist only applies to . agencies like the FDA, CPSC, FTC, etc. and not private companies. The subtext of the position seems to be that if it not a law and thus completely voluntary then there is no moral reason to agree to voluntarily follow the code in the U.S.. I could argue the same thing about running down the street screaming racial slurs under the guise that it's protected by the 1st amendment. Why it is indeed my right to spew hateful speech un the 1st amendment, I and many others realize that it would be morally wrong and that is why we voluntarily choose not to exercise that right. The formula companies on the other hand buy into the corporate mantra that profits trump morality. This is the same kind of thinking that allowed asbestos to be sold for so long in the U.S. despite the producers of it knowing many decades before it was finely banned just how dangerous it was and covering it up. Now all those companies have paid a steep price as they are now all bankrupt due to the many lawsuits the resulted from their actions. The same can be said of BPA being used a various plastic products kids are exposed to such a baby bottles which the companies that product these products have fought against being banned in products in the U.S..

Fortunately, if enough people get upset about something in their food or other products then they can push the companies to voluntarily remove the ingredient from any products of that companies that it appears in. We have seen this with BPA even though it's not yet banned in the U.S. unlike in Europe. We are also seeing this with trans-fat in foods where most major junk food product manufactures have voluntarily removed it due to public pressure. Unfortunately, I think the formula companies have have been effective enough in promoting formula and prompting it's defense so that their will not be enough public pressure in the short term to effect a voluntary adoption of the WHO code.

(edited for typos)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-16-2010

charleen2008 wrote:
While it's true that the WHO code could not likely be adopted as a whole as currently written by law in the U.S. without the certain speech related element of the code being held to violate the 1st amendment by the Supreme Court, that does not mean that it could not be adopted in some modified form. The Supreme Court has allowed greater restriction on commercial speech then they have on non-commercial speech. This is why laws prohibiting misleading or false advertising are allowed or why the ban on tobacco advertising on TV still stands.

Yes, I agree.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2008
jessica765 wrote:

Speech cannot be banned merely because it isn't true and/or could cause harm.

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