Bollywood mothers face flak for endorsing feeding bottle brand

The complaint further said that the news article about the promotion claimed that the brand's initiative was to destigmatize conversations around baby feeding, empowering more mothers to breastfeed.
Neha Dhupia. (Photo | PTI)
Neha Dhupia. (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: A leading infant care advocacy group has objected to celebrity mothers Neha Dhupia, Bipasha Basu, Diya Mirza and others promoting a baby-feeding bottle brand, saying it violates the law. 

The Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), a national network of organisations and individuals that promotes mother and child health through protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding,  has written to Union Health Secretary Sudhansh Pant and Women and Child Development Secretary Indevar Pandey against a social media event on August 2 and an upcoming mega gala on August 7 featuring a host of celebrity mothers like Neha Dhupia, Bipasha Basu, Diya Mirza, Masoom Miniwala and Gauahar Khan promoting the feeding bottle brand which is being sold at a discount on a popular online shopping site. 

In its complaint, BPNI said that promoting bottle-feeding products is prohibited under the Infant Milk Substitutes Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 1992 and Amendment Act 2003 (IMS Act).

Drawing the health ministry's attention to a recent media announcement about the events by the brand, BPNI, in its complaint, said, "These celebrities are mothers of infants, and it's prohibited in the IMS Act section 4 (b) to contact any pregnant woman and mother of the infant to promote infant milk substitutes, infant food and feeding bottles."

The complaint further said that the news article about the promotion claimed that the brand's initiative was to destigmatize conversations around baby feeding, empowering more mothers to breastfeed.

Nupur Bidla, BPNI national coordinator, who wrote to the two ministries, noted that the stated objective is promoting the brand, which is also a violation.

She also said that the company has also violated section 3(c) 4 (b) (c) of the IMS Act by giving discounts on feeding bottles on popular online shopping site and engaging with celeb mothers.

BPNI has been notified in the Gazette of India as a child welfare NGO to initiate action under section 21(1) of the IMS Act for officially monitoring and implementing IMS Act since 1995.

She requested the two ministries to “initiate immediate action against the offending company.”

Speaking with The New Indian Express, she said, “BPNI has been informing the government about violations of the IMS Act in the past, but feeding bottle companies keep violating the law by offering discounts.”

“Companies have started engaging with celebrity mothers and influencers, using their personal stories to promote their products. In the digital era, lakhs of pregnant and lactating women may fall prey to their commercial greed.”

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