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Why I Protest Nestlé’s Unethical Business Practices

Fight the Nestle MonsterI am an outspoken critic of Nestlé's unethical business practices. Although I have been aware of some of the issues with Nestlé for years, I have become more aware of the depth and breadth of the issues since my interaction with both Nestlé and the Nestlé Family Bloggers starting last September. This post provides an overview of the Nestlé problem, links to key resources, and links to my past posts and discussion on this issue.

Overview of Nestlé's Unethical Business Practices

Nestlé is accused by experts of unethical business practices such as:

Nestlé defends its unethical business practices and uses doublespeak, denials and deception in an attempt to cover up or justify those practices. When laws don't exist or fail to hold Nestlé to account, it takes public action to force Nestlé to change. Public action can take on many forms, including boycotting Nestlé brands, helping to spread the word about Nestlé's unethical business practices, and putting pressure on the government to pass legislation that would prevent Nestlé from doing things that put people, animals and the environment at risk.

My past posts on Nestlé

I've always posted about corporate ethics, breastfeeding support, and the unethical marketing tactics of infant formula companies. However, I think the first time I wrote a post specifically about Nestlé was in September 2009. I had heard that a number of bloggers were going to a Nestlé Family event being hosted at Nestlé's USA headquarters in California. I asked a number of them on twitter what message they were going to take to Nestlé about its unethical marketing of infant formula and a few of them asked me what I would like them to ask or asked me to send them further information. So I wrote a post...

An open letter to the attendees of the Nestle Family blogger event

That post got a lot of attention. More than 50 trackbacks (many of which are mentioned in Best for Babes anthology of the firestorm), more than 200 comments, and more than 10,000 page views within a few days. It spurred a lot of conversation and debate on twitter, on my blog, and on other people's blogs.  It resulted in a Nestlé executive offering to answer my questions by phone. I did have questions, but figured it would be more transparent to do it in writing. So I asked them 17 questions on issues like breastfeeding support, compliance with the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, health claims on their packaging, free formula samples, audits of their marketing practices, the history of the boycott, chocolate and slave labour, sodium in processed foods and more...

Follow-up questions for Nestle

The link for the follow-up questions provides links to the answers I received from Nestlé and my analysis of their answers, frequently pointing out doublespeak or missing information in their responses. Since then, I have continued to write a variety of posts on issues related to Nestlé and on my decision and the decision of others with regards to the Nestlé sponsorship of BlogHer '10. I will continue to point out business practices by Nestlé and other companies that undermine parents, put babies at risk, violate human rights and hurt the environment because staying silent or ignoring issues like this further enables horrible inhumane behaviour.

Want to boycott Nestle?


The Nestlé boycott has been going on for more than 30 years and Nestlé is still one of the three most boycotted companies in Britain. Although Nestlé officials would like to claim that the boycott has ended, it is still very much alive. But it needs to get bigger in order to have a greater impact. Nestlé owns a lot of brands and is the biggest food company in the world, so people wishing to boycott their brands need to do a bit of homework first to familiarize themselves with the brand names to avoid in the stores. For example, Butterfinger and Stouffer's are two brands being represented as sponsors at BlogHer '10 in August, and they are both owned by Nestlé.

Tweet your support! Blog your message! Share on facebook!

#noNestleAre you on twitter? Let people know that you do not support Nestlé's unethical business practices. Tweet your message to Nestlé and to others using the hash tag #noNestle.

Or, if you have a blog, write your own post telling people about your concerns with Nestlé and let them know what you are doing about it. Feel free to quote the entire section above on Nestlé's unethical business practices and/or to link to this post or any of the other resources listed here for more information.

On facebook? Share this post or any of the resources I've listed above to inform your friends about Nestlé's unethical business practices.

Spread the word!

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Reader Comments (99)

[...] Why I Protest Nestlé’s Unethical Business Practices – PhD in Parenting [...]

I wrote a post about it a couple months ago:


I'll probably need to update soon b/c you've covered so much that I didn't know!

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSt. Louis Smart Mama

Thank you for your activism, your intent, and your care for the wellness of women and children. With the advent of "chocolate formula" this year (my blog post and video:http://seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.org/chocolate-formula-more-sugar-than-a-pop-tart/comment-page-1/), I am stunned at the marketing and the greed that surrounds direct to consumer messages re: nutrition for infants and children. Often marketers use "nutrition" as a advertisements for products that detract from it.

Your post spawned a memory for me. My mom and dad did the US Peace Corps in the late 1960's. They taught at a girls' school in rural Kenya. At the time, Nestle was handing out formula to new mothers for free (of course, this practice goes on all over the world today!) and then not providing support thereafter. Mothers breast milk dried up and then families left dependent on formula for their infants couldn't afford to purchase formula they needed. More infants suffered from malnutrition.
As a young girl, I always wanted my mom to buy this Nestle Strawberry powder that other kids at school were mixing into milk. I really really wanted it; I offered to use my allowance to buy it. My mom refused and explained her rationale---that she would NEVER buy a product made my Nestle. She was horrified at what she'd seen. She told me the stories over and over again.
To this day, I avoid Nestle products. And I thank you for your strong voice and courage to work so hard to care for all children all over the world.

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWendy Sue Swanson, MD

I use Nestle Good Start formula for my child. Never heard of all this stuff before... ??

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda


A lot of people haven't heard of it. That is why I do my best to educate people, as do numerous non-profit organizations such as Greepeace, Corporate Accountability International, Baby Milk Action and others.

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

That part about handing out formula and then not giving the moms support is sickening today. Of course the same thing happens here in America, but at least here usually moms can use government agencies like WIC to get food for their babies. It's so sad and really just shows how broken our systems of governments are, whether is in Africa or America, they just can't or won't protect mothers and babies from the interests of big business.

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

We boycotted Nestle in the 70's when I was nursing my children. I didn't realize they were still up to the same old tricks. Spread the word & let the boycott continue!

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersusan lewis

[...] Now onto Nestle and just what it is that makes them so unethical. The following two sections are from a post by Annie of PhD in Parenting. [...]

[...] that no longer buying Häagen-Dazs might ruin your life then you need to head over to her post Why I Boycott Nestlé’s Unethical Business Practices for an overview of how Nestlé ruins other people’s lives and make a full-on switch to Ben [...]

A friend at BlogHer tweeted a pic of some Nestle products. My response was to say but they're Nestle, #noNestle. It amazes and depresses me that ppl still haven't heard about the Nestle business practises.

August 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterliveotherwise

[...] Annie at PhD in Parenting describes why she is dedicated to boycotting Nestle’s unethical business practices. [...]

Great stuff! Good links for further information :)))
All the best.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

[...] From Annie (at PhDinParenting): Why I Protest Nestle’s Unethical Business Practices [...]

really? with such a great and already a household name? This is a new learning for me. Thanks for really showing what's what at least we have known something beyond their success.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterboarding101

[...] Why: My biggest beef with Nestle is over their unethical marketing of artificial baby milk (formula). The World Health Organization has a code that companies are to follow to ensure that babies and mothers are protected, and Nestle has flagrantly ignored it internationally. (You can look here for a FAQ about the WHO’s International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.) Babies are dying all over the world because of Nestle’s aggressive marketing and sabotage of breastfeeding relationships. This is not hyperbole – babies in the third world are dying of dysentery from formula mixed with unclean water, and poor people who cannot afford formula are not mixing enough powder (to make a can of formula stretch a little longer), starving babies slowly and causing growth problems. Nestle also is notorious for many other human rights violations, outlined beautifully by Annie of PhD in Parenting. [...]

[...] often given free samples, which disrupts the proper establishment of breastfeeding. Nestle’s business practices are a strong example of a company’s business practices interfering with [...]

[...] had an opportunity to educate people about Nestle’s unethical business practices. I wrote a blog post summarizing Nestle’s unethical business practices and that post as well as other Nestle-related content has been viewed at least 10,000 times in the [...]

[...] I bloggvärlden om Nestlébojkotten. [...]

You should maybeline and Body shop to your list, L'oreal owns shares in the both of them.
No nestle products in my house at all, threw out everything I bought not realising they were part of nestle, my hubby has given up his favourite coffee and even my 5 year old daughter knows not to ask for them, explained to her they try to stop babies getting mummies milk which she knows is what babies are supposed to have.

September 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

Certainly appreciate the good efforts of you people about Nestle and
bad baby-formula marketing etc. However I have read _content_ labels
on some baby formula packages. Looks terriblle(?!) In particular
43.2% by weight corn syrup. In 1908 book by RIchard Johnson about
new discoveries. Diseases in Western civilization caused/worsened by
huge quantities of fructose. as in corn product. Statistical evidence
it is harmful: children show some signs of trouble BEFORE old enough
eat junk foods usually blamed. Still on formulas... _The Sugar Fix_ by
Johnson. Truly Yrs, A. G.
P. S. So maybe...stuff about _content_ on other sites?? And hazard to
attack corporate giants, etc..

September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlexander Grin

I also grew up with mom telling me about Nestle's unethical practices in Africa, but neither of us realized that it's still going on and not just in Africa. And stupid question but does anyone know where I can get pumpkin pie filling other than Libby's brand? Like does Target or Wal-Mart sell store-brand maybe? I think it would be awesome to compile a page of suggestions for Nestle alternatives, esp for the products like Libby's that seem somewhat unique but are surely replaceable!

September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaman A Droit

Maman a Droit

Have you checked somewhere like Whole Foods? There must be organic brands of it. I know that we have lots of options here in Canada that are not Libby's.

September 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

[...] Why I Protest Nestle [...]

September 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBEWARE: Formula Company’

Thanks for the list and info. I do not buy Nestle or Gerbers but I was unaware that Nestle owned all of those brands

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLizzie

[...] I’m writing this post not to tell you that formula feeding is wrong, because I believe nothing of the sort. I am writing this post, however, to urge you to support breastfeeding mothers and the women in your life who want to breastfeed. Be aware of the cultural and institutional “booby traps” that get in the way of women’s establishing and sustaining a healthy breastfeeding relationship. Get and provide good information about breastfeeding, such as at the sites recommended here. Read this post, because it’s awesome. And for goodness sake, boycott Nestlé. [...]

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterI’m Not Fine

I just came across your site and I have never heard of this either. Thanks so much for all the info and links you've put together. I've been reading tons and although I don't have any Nestle products in my home (it's easy if we keep it simple, organic and natural) I will be on the lookout. I'll miss that Haagen-Danz ice cream once in a while, but not worth it. Thanks so much! Let the boycott begin! I'll be blogging about it :) Also, I was wondering if you could have your badge available to those that want to use it in their blog?

October 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonaji

i don't care

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercienna

[...] i found out about National Boycott Nestle week today and i am in. krispin and i have long been on an anti-sweat shop kick but have been too lazy to research child/slave labor conditions in the food industry. i say too lazy but maybe i really mean too demoralized. because it seems like a huge and all pervasive problem, especially for our favorite foods such as chocolate, salt, sugar, and coffee. but now it turns out there is an even better reason to boycott nestle–for all the information, go here. [...]

October 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteractivist mom « Ramona Ba

Thank you for providing this information and especially the links. @Maman A Droit, it's super easy to make your own filling with a pie pumpkin. You can steam, microwave, or bake (best!) a cut up pie pumpkin, scrape out the meat, mash it up (or puree it, if inclined) and use it just like canned. It's so much sweeter when you bake it. Also, my kids like to just eat it straight up. You can freeze it for a year, so if you make it, make a bunch and save the rest for later (pumpkin stew!). Good stuff.

October 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRandi

Do you think Nestles would advertise their underhandedness? Nestles is buying more and more American companies. They need to be stopped. Ice Mountain and Ozarka water are now nestle controlled I will no longer buy these waters. Sams club /Walmart are in cahoots with Nestles. I buy only Crystal Gyser now. Read the fine print on the water you buy.

October 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPhilbert

beware! Libby's packs under many names and places store brand lables on many of their packed fruits and vegitables. With out a list of brand names libby packs under you can't be sure who put what into your can.

October 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPhilbert


If I do have to buy bottled water, I'll buy a non-Nestle brand. However, http://www.phdinparenting.com/2010/08/23/water-a-right-and-a-risk/" rel="nofollow">the best option is to not buy it at all.

October 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Libby's Pumpkin is owned by Nestle, but Libby's vegetables are not. That said, they may be partnering in some way (as many do in the incestuous food industry).

October 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

[...] Why I Protest Nestle’s Unethical Business Practices by PhD in Parenting [...]

[...] you are not yet aware of the reasons why people boycott and protest Nestle, here is a summary from my post on why I protest Nestle’s unethical business practices: Nestlé is accused by experts of unethical business practices such [...]

Trader Joe's sells organic pumpkin puree'. It's not already spiced, so you have to do that yourself. But it's BETTER and worth it. I had no idea about this Nestle stuff and I've been buying Libby's for years. Guess I'll ONLY stock up on the Trader Joe's stuff now!

October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFlawless Mom

[...] flavors/colors that will affect their sleep and moods for days, nor do we want to support corporations who violate human rights, destroy the environment, and use harmful marketing tactics to discourage [...]

[...] left?). I’ve (mostly) given up drinks that come in plastic bottles. I’ve given up Nestlé products. Some of these things I’ve given up because I don’t have time for them [...]

November 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOn My Mind: Giving Up

Have any of you heard of the incident of Nestle sending their bad baby formula to Africa and it killing so many babies there? I guess an ingredient was bad in it so they had to pull it from the shelves here in America.They sent it there so they could get a large tax write off. It's sickening.

November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

[...] You may, for a myriad of reasons, choose not to give your money to Libby’s. [...]

You may want to consider boycotting Amazon too, regarding their stocking/sales of books that support pedophilia.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna


Um...I just wrote about that: http://www.phdinparenting.com/2010/11/10/amazon-kindle-facilitates-crimes-against-children/" rel="nofollow">Amazon Kindle Facilitates Crimes Against Children.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

[...] Why I protest Nestle’s unethical business practices (PostRank 8.5) [...]

[...] the evils of formula advertising and the subtle, sometimes shocking way it’s implemented. PhD in Parenting leads the way in boycotting Nestle because of their extensive reach and not-good works tied to their brand power, something I’ve [...]

My mother taught us about this when we were young and I teach my children. How sad that it has gone on so long.

February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

[...] enough to make me refuse to buy anything associated with them. But there’s more. According to PhD in Parenting, they’ve been “accused by experts of unethical business practices such [...]

[...] is a 30-year-long Nestle boycott that a lot of bloggers have joined in on in recent years. You can read about the boycott here. As I said in the last installment, I am a little leery of large food corporations, so that would [...]

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