29 April 2009

Cue the angry socialist ravings... NOW

I'm pissed off. This is nothing new. It's hard not to be angry if you're a socialist living in North America. What's got my panties twisted today? Two "bigs" I find to be inextricably mixed: Big Food (i.e. Nestlé) and Big Pharma.

Bastards, all of 'em. Nestlé is on my list of evil bastards primarily because of their infant formula marketing. In the 1970s, they were directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of babies because they marketed their formula to poor mothers who didn't have access to clean water. And what are those bastards doing now? Marketing a prebiotic formula, calling it 'natural', and implicitly equating formula with breastmilk, without actually crossing the legal line, but totally pissing on the spirit of the laws. BASTARDS. Bastard coated bastards with bastard fillings. Here's the email:
April 28, 2009

Nestlé has introduced a new line of formulas which it claims mimics the protective properties of breastmilk. The new prebiotic brand, called Nestlé Good Start Natural Cultures, contains Bifidobacteria, a bacteria species that is also found in breastmilk. Nestlé is making the vague claim that this added ingredient will help protect babies.

The new brand is only the latest attempt by the company to equate its formula with breastmilk. While the ad contains the requisite “breast is best” statement, the advertising tagline strongly suggests that Nestlé’s
formula is roughly equivalent to breastmilk. “There are only two places your baby can get natural cultures,” reads the ad, “The first is you. The other
is from Nestlé Good Start Natural Cultures.” No scientific study is cited as proof that the bacterial cultures in this formula have the same effect on
infants as breastmilk. The repeated use of the word “natural” obscures the fact that there is nothing natural about feeding an infant a manufactured substance from a plastic bottle and artificial nipple. To equate this with the naturally-occurring protective bacterial cultures found in breastmilk is deceptive to say the least.

This new additive to formula is simply a marketing ploy. All formulas are composed of virtually the same ngredients, and as such, formula companies have a difficult time distinguishing their brands from others on the market. In the past, companies have introduced new formulas based on claims about additives DHA and ARA, added iron, and whey protein. Now that all formula companies have brands with these additives, Nestlé has decided to add another substance for marketing purposes. It can be expected that other companies will soon follow suit and release their own so-called prebiotic formulas.

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes specifically prohibits health claims for formula under World Health Assembly resolution 58.32. This has not stopped formula companies from making outrageous claims about the properties of their products, without providing any evidence to back them up. As with those before it, this latest additive will do little for the health of infants, but will certainly help line the pockets of one of the world’s wealthiest corporations.

Nestlé has been planning to release this formula for some time, and as such has been resisting the new international standards for the preparation of powdered infant formula. Powdered infant formula has been found to be intrinsically contaminated with Enterobacter sakazakii, a potentially deadly bacteria that has been linked to infant deaths around the world. Because of this, international food standards authorities recently released new recommendations on the preparation of powdered formula to reduce the risk of infection from E. sakazakii by stating that when preparing powdered formula, parents should boil water, cool it to 70 degrees and then add the powder. However, Nestlé strongly opposed this policy change because it knew that such high temperatures would also destroy the so-called “natural cultures”
as well.

Ads for its new formula contain special instructions that temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius will compromise the Bifidobacteria, advising that mothers should cool water to this lower temperature before adding the powder. So not only does Nestlé’s Natural Culture brand falsely claim to protect infants, it can only be prepared in a way that contravenes international guidelines and exposes babies to the potentially deadly threat of Enterobacter sakazakii.
Fuckers. And it's exactly what capitalism calls for. Unadulterated greed. Taking what you can get from anyone. Making more more more. Never mind that it's BABIES that are most at risk here.

And what of Big Pharma? Well, I'm good and mad at those bastards this week too. When doctors started seeing there was a problem with Vioxx, Merck started targeting those doctors. How fucking evil is that? That's Cheneyesque.

And why do I find them to be linked? Here's the thing. Beyond the obvious evil capitalist angle, there's the fact that both of these push shit that isn't good for us. Breastfeeding is inconvenient? Here, feed your kid this garbage perfectly acceptable alternative. No, that's not quite right. Some drugs are necessary, and sometimes formula is necessary (galactosemia, for example). But both pharmaceuticals and infant formulas should be last resorts, not the norms. And both Big Pharma and the formula companies try to normalize it, for their own gain, at our expense. It's absolutely sickening.