Most upvoted comment
What company has forever lost your business? Why?(r/AskReddit)
Nestle. Fuck Nestle.
I recently graduated with a degree in Public Relations and in one of my case studies classes, we looked at Nestle and how it unethically promoted the use of their baby formula in developing countries. You see, Nestle would offer free samples of baby formula (marketing it as healthier than breast milk) to new mothers in hospitals and maternity wards, which generally seems like a good thing as long as you have no idea how lactation works. Once the mother in this developing country began using this “free” formula instead of her own breast milk, her lactation would often cease thereby forcing the mother to maintain her child’s diet of formula which was often unaffordable. Also, formula is mixed with water and giving water from developing countries to infants is generally a poor choice.
For more information, this Wiki article backs up my story: Nestle Boycott. If anyone would be more interested in scholarly references, I can provide those as well.
Edit 1: So I didn’t realize how huge this would get… I ended up leaving out a whole bunch of information because it was very, very late when I posted this. I was hoping the wiki article would handle things.
Further information on this particular case:
The issue I am referring to occured in the 70s. Many mothers in these developing countries ended up giving thier newborns very, very diluted formula bottles because they simply couldn’t afford the cost of the formula that they were effectively unwillingly committed to. This led to many, many infant deaths from malnutrition.
Another important fact to note is that Nestle representatives would often dress as nurses in these Maternity wards to further influence their customers into thinking formula was their best choice.
Many Redditors are commenting on the issue of HIV infected breastmilk vs. formula. This issue is easily covered by this statement: In the case of HIV+ mothers, if the water is clean in your region and you can afford formula, use formula; if the water is contaminated in your region, breastfeed.
For those questioning the current practices of Nestle compared to this seemingly one-time incident, Nestle has been an unethical company for decades. The most recent issue that has surfaced with Nestle is their current power grab for water. This was recently outlined in a Reddit post here.
For those who want references:
This is the book we used in class. It outlines the issue very well and as unbiased as can be. Otherwise, here’s some MLA citation of journal articles for you:
Baker, James C. “The international infant formula controversy: a dilemma in corporate social responsibility.” Journal of Business Ethics 4.3 (1985): 181-190.
George, Susan. “Nestle Alimentana SA: the limits to public relations.” Economic and Political Weekly (1978): 1591-1602.
Gilly, Mary C., and John L. Graham. “A macroeconomic study of the effects of promotion on the consumption of infant formula in developing countries.” Journal of Macromarketing 8.1 (1988): 21-31.
Edit 2: I knew I forgot something!
Some Redditors are being discouraged by just how many brands Nestle owns so here’s a list of all of Nestle’s products: Nestle Products. If you do intend to boycott Nestle, you’re actually going to have to give up a lot of foods. But! On the plus side, most of them are highly processed and generally unhealthy for you anyway, so you’ll also be healthier!
Thanks to all for the feedback! I’ve attempted to respond to the majority of your questions and I will continue to field any and all questions as best as I can. I only hope that you have found this conversation to be constructive. I would just like to leave you all with one comment (which may seem lofty, but you rarely get a chance like this).
Every dollar you spend is a vote. Remember that. Every time you support a company that ignores basic human rights, you are actively voting against the interests of humanity. I know it’s difficult and frustrating to take these issues into consideration before purchasing products, but please, do your best. Every person is responsible for their own actions and if you’re not helping humanity, you’re hindering it.
Thanks, Reddit. Stay classy.