November 8th, 2013
Special Report: How Big Formula bought China
By ALEXANDRA HARNEY
In the two days after Lucy Yang gave birth at Peking University Third Hospital in August 2012, doctors and nurses told the 33-year-old technology executive that while breast milk was the best food for her son, she hadn’t produced enough. They advised her instead to start him on infant formula made by Nestle.
“They support only this brand, and they don’t let your baby drink other brands,” Yang recalled. “The nurses told us not to use our own formula. They told us if we did, and something happened to the child, they wouldn’t take any responsibility.” For Nestle and other infant formula producers, there is one significant complication for their China business: a 1995 Chinese regulation designed to ensure the impartiality of physicians and protect the health of newborns.