Ethical Performance
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FTSE4Good resets rules on breast milk substitutes

May 2011

The marketing of breast milk substitutes is to be subject to external verification assessments commissioned by the FTSE4Good index.

In its latest bi-annual review the index announced new inclusion requirements for breast milk substitution marketing. The rules, introduced in consultation with companies, investors and NGOs, including Unicef and Save the Children, now cover lobbying and reporting.
The inclusion requirements on breast milk substitutes date from 2004, but the new criteria, built on the World Health Organization’s international breast milk substitutes code, have favoured a lowering of the bar for initial inclusion, offset by continued monitoring.

FTSE will appoint independent and external verifiers, themselves appointed in collaboration with third parties such as the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has been commissioned for the first cycle of assessments, in which businesses must certify that marketing standards are being followed and that well-functioning policy compliance, management and monitoring systems are in place.

FTSE says the changes are in response to ‘current low levels of trust that exist between the industry and non-governmental groups’, and to make the criteria ‘more achievable’. It notes that under the previous standards no company had been able to meet the requirements in full.

Companies eligible for the FTSE4Good index in the breast milk substitute industry, and therefore affected by the changes, are: Abbott Laboratories, Bristol Myers Squibb, China Mengniu Dairy, Danone, Heinz, Meiji Diaries, Nestle and Wyeth.

David Bull, executive director of Unicef UK, said: ‘We look forward to following this initiative closely as it seeks to support and strengthen progress towards full code compliance.’

Marc Van Ameringen, executive director of the Geneva-based GAIN, said: ‘These verification assessments will catalyse significant improvements.’

FTSE Group | UK & NI Ireland | Marketing

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