MBC signs onto campaign to eliminate hospital discharge bags

Dear US Breastfeeding Committee Members,

We are excited to announce the launch of Public Citizen's campaign to stop the marketing of infant formula in healthcare facilities.

As you know, one of the most significant factors limiting breastfeeding, and thereby harming the health of both babies and mothers, is the aggressive marketing of infant formula directly to consumers. In the United States, the vast majority of hospitals distribute industry-sponsored "discharge bags," which contain formula samples, to new mothers. Research has clearly established that mothers who receive formula samples are less likely to breastfeed exclusively and breastfeed for shorter periods of time. By distributing infant formula samples, hospitals participate in the marketing efforts of formula companies at the expense of patients' health.

As an initial step in our campaign, we will be sending letters to hospitals across the country, asking them to discontinue the practice of distributing commercial infant formula manufacturer discharge bags in their facilities. Please join us in signing on to this letter demanding that hospitals end this destructive practice. To sign your organization or breastfeeding coalition on to the letter, please visit the sign on link by Monday, March 5, 2012.

For your information, we have attached a copy of the fact sheet that will accompany the letter when it is sent to hospitals.

As a part of this campaign, Public Citizen also plans to:

  • Pressure formula companies to cease marketing in healthcare facilities (as a step along the way to complying with the WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes). Plans are underway to send letters to major formula companies from allied organizations, deliver petitions signed by concerned members of the public to the companies, send a pediatrician/healthcare provider sign-on letter, and engage in shareholder activism.

  • Facilitate local activism to pressure hospitals and healthcare facilities in your community to take action and end formula marketing. We will be helping supporters to organize local events and meetings with hospital officials.

  • Raise media and public awareness around the issue of infant formula marketing. We will be joining together with supporters to publish op-eds and letters to editors in local and regional newspapers, write blog posts, and reach out to a wide range of media outlets.

  • Watch for more information about these initiatives. Please note that by signing on to this letter, you are committing only to this particular letter and no other future actions. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Elizabeth Ben-Ishai at 202-588-7746 or ebenishai@citizen.org.

    Thanks for all your hard work on this important issue.

    Robert Weissman, President
    Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, Campaign Coordinator

    Hospital Letter
    Fact Sheet