In the late seventies, baby formula salesman Syed Aamir Raza, who was from Pakistan, blew the whistle on international food behemoth Nestlé for practices which, he had discovered, were causing the deaths of potentially hundreds of thousands of infants born in developing countries.
Raza’s story has now been memorialized in a new feature film titled Tigers, which opens at the Zurich Film Festival on Wednesday and had its world premiere last month at the Toronto Film Festival.
International public health groups such as the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and Save the Children have long criticized baby formula companies including Nestlé for promoting their products in a way that undermines breastfeeding, which they say has led to dangerous health problems in infants in less economically developed countries. Not only are the infants deprived of the natural benefits of breast milk, the groups charge, but parents in developing countries are often either forced to mix the formula with unsafe drinking water or buy bottled water—another Nestlé product that has been heavily marketed in these countries.
Further, the groups note that Nestlé’s marketing practices also routinely violate the World Health Organization code that regulates that advertising of breast milk substitutes. The international public health group says: “Globally, breastfeeding has the potential to prevent about 800,000 under-five deaths per year if all children 0–23 months were optimally breastfed.”
IBFAN estimates that in areas with unsafe water a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhea.
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