Last week, French investigative TV programme, Cash Investigation, alleged that in exchange for gifts and financial support from Danone’s subsidiary, Sari Husada, doctors and midwives in Indonesia encouraged young mothers to switch from breastfeeding to infant formula.
Sari Husada, acquired by Danone in 2007, markets infant formula in Indonesia under the SGM brand.
Following the broadcast, Danone took to Twitter to respond to the allegations.
The French dairy later issued a statement, denying that it or the products it offers in Indonesia "endanger the safety of its consumers."
The World Health Organization (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (WHO Code) stipulates that "no financial or material inducement to promote products...be offered by manufacturers or distributors to health workers or members of their families."
"Many provisions" of the WHO Code have been incorporated into Indonesian law, including principles related to the promotion of breast milk substitutes, including infant formula, to health workers and health facilities.
The Indonesian Regulation of the Minister of Health on Infant Formula Milk and Other Baby Products states that "use of health staff to provide information about the infant formula milk to the public" is prohibited.
“Danone supports the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), according to which exclusive breastfeeding is the best food for infants during the first months of life and according to which the milk marketing practices should be strictly controlled," Danone's translated statement continued.
Danone added that all its businesses must operate in line with its Policy for the Marketing of Foods for Infants and Young Children.
Its guidelines, generally referred to as the Danone Green Book, "governs the marketing practices of the Early Life and Medical Nutrition divisions, across all markets."
“Each subsidiary must meet strict business code of conduct based Danone on the accession to international charters, with its own rules of governance ethical and responsible, as well as local laws," Danone said.
"When discrepancies are found, they are directly processed and are subject to corrective action in a logic of improvement continuing our practices.”