Danone’s Asian infant nutrition business, Dumex, has vowed to take “disciplinary action” against employees that bribed Chinese doctors and nurses in Tianjin to promote the company's products to the parents of newborns and infants.
In a statement sent to DairyReporter.com earlier today, Dumex China accepted “full responsibility” for the illegal payments made by its employees, and promised that “disciplinary actions will be taken according to the relevant company regulations including appointing new management personnel to deal with relevant issues.”
Dumex issued the statement following the conclusion of a probe, conducted by police and local health officials in Tianjin, into allegations that hospital staff across the city were paid by Dumex employees to promote the company's products.
The investigation discovered that since 2011 bribes had been paid to 116 doctors and nurses acorss 85 medical institutions in the Tianjin Municipality “distribute promotional materials, and promote the use of Dumex milk powder."
This was done in exchange for “illegally accepted Dumex company fees in varying amounts,” said an extract of a statement issued by the local government in Tianjin.
Thirteen hospital workers have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs following the investigation, the statement added.
“Immediate suspension” of health education program
In response to initial allegations, which were detailed a September China Central Television (CCTV) news report, Dumex China launched its own internal investigation, which has since “been substantially completed.”
“The reports were found to be related to a company-sponsored program supporting mother-and-child health education,” said Dumex China in its statement.
“Dumex policies include support for maternal breast feeding, as well as compliance with all local and nation regulations in China. However, even though the program is in good condition it has been found that the educational program was not appropriately managed in some cases. This resulted in some practices that contradicted the purpose of the program, which violated company-wide policies. The company has expressed it deep regret for these shortcomings.”
In response, Dumex China has ordered the “immediate suspension of the mother-and-child health education program, in all regions.”
Mandatory marketing training
Alongside the temporary shutdown of its mother-and-child health education program, Dumex China announced plans to introduce a policy of “mandatory training programs in marketing responsibility for all employees, to ensure full compliance with Dumex policies, and local and national regulations.”
“This specific training will be completed in a three month period. At the same time, Dumex China will further strengthen its internal management and governance systems.”
“Dumex will continue to strictly follow all regulations set by the Chinese government and local authorities, as well as the guidance of the World Health Organisation. We welcome the supervision from the government, media and public," the statement added.