Mead Johnson Seminar Cancelled!

Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie:

Seminar Would Promote Infant Formula to Paediatrics Department Staff

In marketing, recruiting new customers is important. If you’re in the business of marketing infant formula one of the best ways to recruit new customers is a hospital paediatrics department: where new mothers come looking for guidance. And how could you influence the doctors and nurses, make them think that your product is scientifically advanced, that it’s getting closer to breastmilk, and that it’s OK. How about a one-hour infant formula infomercial masquerading as a scholarly seminar?

Well, that’s what infant formula maker Mead Johnson was thinking when they arranged for Dr. Marianna Mitchell to speak at the Barrie Royal Victoria Hospital paediatrics department.

Have a look at an excerpt from the seminar flyer:

Please join us as we welcome our speaker:

Dr. Marianna Mitchell, FAAP, FRCP(C), Lakeridge Health Corp., Oshawa site, Department of Paediatrics

The topic:

“Leading the Way: Bringing Infant Nutrition Closer to Breast Milk Function and Composition”


  1. Explore the role of prebiotics in supporting GI health in infants
  2. Examine advances in infant nutrition to more closely approximate the nutritional and functional properties of breast milk
  3. Review the importance of DHA and ARA in cognitive and visual development and in immune health

The words ‘infant formula,’ purposely do not appear, but in fact the seminar is all about infant formula. Prebiotics, ‘approximating breastmilk,’ DHA and ARA, with bogus unsubstantiated claims, are all infant formula marketing strategies. Throughout the flyer ‘infant nutrition,’ is simply a euphemism for ‘infant formula.’

This seminar is clearly a violation of section 6.2 of the World Health Organization International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and Resolution 63.23(4).

So, if Mead Johnson can make the doctors and nurses who work with new mothers think their formula is OK, or at least a viable alternative to breastfeeding, that thinking will affect the mother’s decision to breastfeed and her breastfeeding duration.

Help cancel this very blatant violation of the WHO Code and WHA Resolutons. Send a letter to Janice Skot, Executive Director, President and CEO of the Royal Victoria Hospital and ask her to cancel the Mead Johnson promotion of formula to pediatric staff. Let her know that you expect the Royal Victoria Hospital to abide by the World Health Organization’s recommendations banning formula promotions in health care facilities and that she has a pubic mandate to protect the highest attainable standard of health for mothers and children in the facility she manages.

Ms. Janice Skot Executive Director, President and CEO North Simcoe Muskoka Royal Victoria Hospital

Mailing Address: Royal Victoria Hospital 201 Georgian Drive Barrie, ON L4M 6M2


Elisabeth Sterken
Director INFACT Canada/IBFAN North America