May 21st, 2014
Forget the WHO Code. Itís The Street Code That Undermines Mothers in Detroit
By Kimberly Seals Allers
Itís the 33rd anniversary of the international effort to curb unethical infant formula marketing practices. But you wouldnít know it from the streets of Detroit. If you thought we were past the days of blatantly egregious infant formula marketing and that hospitals, doctorís offices and subtle messaging and innuendo were the final frontiers of removing unethical marketing practices, I implore you to drive through the streets of Detroit. As you ride by store after store, you will see large colorful signs with oversized cans of infant formula on them, advertising free pizza, free diapers or the chance to win a free television if you just spend your WIC dollars at their store. Of course, the main WIC item being advertised is the powdered infant formula cans, but Iím sure they will take the money for your smaller priced items too. This is street marketing at its worst.
Shouldnít someone call the World Health Organization? Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopting the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Since then the Code has been used a benchmark to end unsavory marketing practices. More than 160 countries and territories (the U.S did not at the time) agreed to take steps to implement the Code, which specifically prohibits marketing formula directly to the public. The American Academy of Pediatrics adopted a policy stating that the Academy would terminate the support it received from any company which promoted its products (infant formula) directly to the public.