UK Formula Regulations whitewash -
call on the Government to conduct a proper review
This action is now closed.
Last year the UK Government promised a year-long review of the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations 2007 and the Guidance Notes that accompany them. All UK health worker and mother support groups and the Government's own Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition had called for stronger measures than those implemented during the consultation on them.
We were also concerned about the remit of the Independent Review Panel and we and many others sent messages for assurances that this would look at all aspects of formula marketing to see whether the law was working or needed strengthening. Assurances were given to us and in Parliament that the review would be broad enough.
However, the draft report of the Independent Review Panel has now been posted to the Food Standards Agency website (click here) under the title: "The Independent Review of the Controls on Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula".
The Regulations and the EU Directive from which it derives, according to the Government: "regulates labelling and restricts advertising and presentation of infant and follow on formula so as not to discourage breastfeeding."
We expected the panel to investigate if and how formula is being promoted through the internet, point-of-sale promotion, baby clubs, carelines, labels, health claims, advertising of follow-on formula and other marketing practices and whether these undermine breastfeeding and endanger babies fed on formula. The Panel was to come up with recommendations to better protect public health if necessary.
The Panel did not consider at all whether they are operating successfully in this regard.
Instead the review addresses just one narrow issue: whether parents buy follow-on formula mistaking it for infant formula and feed it to babies under 6 months of age in error. This was not highlighted amongst the concerns raised by health advocates and is of minor importance as infant formula and follow-on formula are now virtually identical in their composition. The concern about follow-on formula advertising is that it undermines breastfeeding both before and after 6 months, promotes brand names used for infant formula, uses unproven health claims to idealise brands and misleads those who plan to use formula.
It is particulary surprising and disappointing that the Independent Review Panel (IRP) has restricted its investigation so drasticly as it not only received monitoring evidence from the Baby Feeding Law Group monitoring project it specifically requested an update on the strategies being employed by the industry.
Baby Milk Action prepared the report Hard Sell Formula (shown right) to meet the Panels request. This is mentioned in the body of the Panel's draft report, but no mention of the strategies or recommendations on how to address them are made in the executive summary.
This action is now closed.
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