Formula whistleblower battled Nestle for 17 years: Porter

It is World Breastfeeding Week in Canada, so I went to Mississauga to see Syed Aamir Raza Hussain.

He works the graveyard shift as a taxi driver. I woke him up.

Hussain has been railing against giant food company Nestlé for 17 years, with only personal misery to show for it.

Until last month.

That’s when the film Tigers, directed by Oscar-winner Danis Tanović, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. It is based on Hussain’s life.

Bollywood heartthrob Emraan Hashmi plays a Nestlé salesman in Sialkot, Pakistan, who blows the whistle on his own practices for the company, plying pediatric doctors and nurses with gifts, and expecting that in return, they would ply new mothers with Nestlé’s formula.

Those practices were encouraged by the company, Hussain said.

They would not just be unethical and illegal in many countries. They could be lethal.

In the film, Hussain’s character discovers this when a doctor leads him into a ward filled with severely malnourished babies, with sunken faces and twiglike arms.

“Those babies are dying because of your company’s formula,” the doctor says.

Instead of breast milk, the babies were fed formula mixed with dirty water — which is all that 44 per cent of the Pakistani population can access.