Wyeth Nutrition Hong Kong's promotional video about breastfeeding has proved controversial. Photo: Wyeth Nutrition Hong Kong

China’s No.1 infant milk powder manufacturer may have had the best of intentions in promoting breastfeeding, but it has drawn flak from a mothers’ group.

In a promotion branded “Salute to Breastmilk”, Wyeth Nutrition’s latest video showed a mother breastfeeding her baby in a car – but without sufficient heed to safety. 

One sharp-eyed mother noted there was no carrycot during breastfeeding as the driver tries to reverse his car, putting the baby in danger.

Under Hong Kong traffic ordinance, babies under nine months should be carried in the rear of a car, lying down, in carrycots. The cot should be on the floor, wedged between the front and rear seats.

However Wyeth Nutrition’s Hong Kong office said it had considered the Road Traffic Ordinance in the course of producing the video and strived to present safe breastfeeding conditions.

The company said that in the opening shot, the mother is breastfeeding in a static car, with the father waiting in the front seat for his wife to finish. In the next shot, the father begins to drive – but only after confirming that his wife has finished breastfeeding, the company claimed.

Still, that explanation failed to convince the mothers’ group that the video genuinely promotes the benefits of breastfeeding. They said they were not convinced by the script that the company really wanted to show the benefits of breastfeeding relative to using milk powder and were suspicious of the company’s motives – the video, after all, promotes Wyeth as a brand, and has gained 77,000 ‘likes’ online.

Wyeth Nutrition, which has been part of Switzerland’s Nestle Group since 2012, recorded over 10 billion yuan (US$1.45 billion) in sales in China last year.

Wyeth Nutrition Hong Kong said it was committed to delivering appropriate information in its communications with the general public, and that its “Salute to Breastmilk” video was intended to show appreciation towards breastfeeding moms.