Danone has changed the wording on its Mumstore NZ website, to express its commitment to supporting all Kiwi mums.
An article in the Herald last week sparked calls for more support for mums who need or even choose not to breastfeed. The article drew attention to a pop-up message on the Mumstore website, forcing customers to click "I understand" on a message about breastfeeding being the best choice for children, before allowing customers to buy formula.
The company has since updated the wording on the pop-up message, with a new paragraph about mums who can't or choose not to breastfeed.
"We also understand not all mothers are able to breastfeed for many reasons related to individual determinants, social attitudes and/or work and employment conditions. Our aim is to empower mothers who are not able, or choose not to (exclusively) breastfeed, with science-based nutrition information in a way that does not discourage mothers from breastfeeding," the website now says.
Danone's Head of Corporate Affairs Joanna McCarthy told the Herald that, while the company has to abide by the NZ Infant Nutrition Council Code of Conduct, which means always stating "the benefits and superiority of breastfeeding", it wanted to clearly state that it supports any Kiwi mum, regardless of how they feed their child.
"We are always listening and open to change. Openness is one of our values and it's important to us that we walk the talk. We support Mum's choice and it's important to us that we reflect this across all of our communication," McCarthy said.
To abide by this code, the formula manufacturer and supplier has to state things that might be seen as going against trying to sell their product or even trying to dissuade mums from purchasing from their site.
McCarthy, who is also a mother of three children, understands the contradiction but explains that, to do their best for every new mum, Danone must support and enforce that code of conduct.
The NZ Infant Nutrition Council Code of Conduct also forces Danone to state the "negative effect on breastfeeding of introducing partial bottle-feeding" and "the difficulty of reversing the decision not to breastfeed".
Despite those messages, McCarthy says it's important for New Zealand mothers, especially new mums, to know they can have support whether they are breastfeeding or formula-feeding - and that's the intention behind the new message on the Mumstore site.
"We have a network of over 400 experts around the world including New Zealand across a range of disciplines, relating to maternal, infant and toddler nutrition, work to support mums, dads, caregivers and healthcare professionals," she said.
"We acknowledge that 'Breast is Best'. However, for those who cannot or choose not to breast feed we endeavour to bring products to market that are based on the latest research to support healthy growth and development in early life."