I am writing
with an urgent request regarding the forthcoming Codex
Alimentarius Commission meeting on Nutrition and Foods
for Special Dietary Uses (Berlin, 26th-30th November).
One of the
issues to be discussed is the labelling of complementary
years there has been a fierce industry lobby against
the World Health Assembly recommendation that complementary
feeding should be fostered from about 6 months of age
(WHA Resolution 47.5 adopted in 1994). The
industry has been pushing to be allowed to label and
promote complementary foods for use from 4 months of
a WHO expert consultation reviewed over 3,000 research
studies and concluded that reduction of infectious disease
morbidity and reduction in mortality are the most important
potential advantages of exclusive breastfeeding for
six months, especially the reduction of gastrointestinal
A few months
later a landmark World Health Assembly Resolution 54.2
was adopted by consensus which called for the protection
of exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
Health Assembly recognised that some mothers may wish
or be well-advised to use complementary foods before
6 months of age but decided that a global public health
policy of '6 months' would not prevent health workers
from advising mothers on an case by case basis to introduce
60 countries have policies which promote exclusive breastfeeding
to 6 months. These policies might well be threatened
if a global labelling standard of 4 months were to be
adopted at Codex.
As the pressure
to expand the baby food market continues, it is vital
that the sovereign right of Governments to implement
the WHA Resolutions is protected, and that trade rules
do not undermine health.
Can you confirm
that the Government will be supporting the '6 month'
recommendation of Resolution
54.2 at the forthcoming Codex meeting and will be
opposing any industry lobby attempting to undermine