Sobeys "Baby Be Friendly" program is exactly the opposite of Baby Friendly!

Dear Sobey's,

As a regular customer at Sobey's, I've generally been happy with your food quality and the great variety of products in your stores across Canada.

Today, however, I received a troubling Facebook advertisement for your "Baby Be Friendly" promotional program. Scrolling through the comments about the program, I noticed that you are giving out free formula samples as part of this program.

As an RN working in Labour and Delivery and a breastfeeding advocate in general, I find this line of promotion to be very unethical. In fact, it directly contradicts the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk substitutes (accessible here:http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/infantfeeding/9241541601/en/index.html) which states "there should be no point-of-sale advertising, giving of samples, or any other promotion device to induce sales directly to the consumer at the retail level" (WHO Int. Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, 1981, pg 17).

Giving samples of infant formula to mothers who may not have access to proper education regarding the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, especially to the 6 month mark, can severely undermine a mother's confidence in her own ability to feed her baby and create problems early in the breastfeeding relationship. There is in-depth recent research which suggests that we should not only be teaching mothers of the benefits of breastfeeding (health and social, for both mother and baby) but should be teaching them the quantifiable risks associated with formula feeding--higher rates of diabetes, and increased risk of allergies among the most common.

Your corporation is in a position to create a precedent in Canada in terms of creating early education to pregnant mothers. I urge you to alter your Baby Be Friendly program to include relevant, current research on the importance of breastfeeding and perhaps even access to local community supports such as Lactation Consultants and La Leche League peer support groups instead of (or at least in addition to) giving away sample packages of infant formula under the misleading term "Baby Friendly."


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