read the latest newscodewatch: meet the code-breakersread the latest Boycott news, and join the Nestlé boycottjoin Baby Milk Actionvisit the Resource Centresearch our growing databaselinks to breastfeeding resourcescontact Baby Milk Action

Take action to strengthen EU baby milk regulations

Aggressive baby milk advertising during breastfeeding week exposes failure of UK law to protect mothers

Press release 13 May 2005

Baby food transnational NUMICO, maker of Nutricia, Milupa and Cow&Gate brands, has been criticised for running a full page advertisement during UK national breastfeeding week stating: "Why our milk is the very best alternative to breastmilk." The advertisement highlights the role of Long Chain Polyunsaturated fatty acids in breastmilk and draw equivalence with the LCPs added to Milupa's Aptamil formulas.

The advertisement does not mention that a study by the respected Cochrane Library found that claims that LCPs in formula confer the same benefits as those in the totally different environment of breastmilk are not substantiated (see note below and Campaign for Ethical Marketing report: Marketing war using “new improved” formulas threatens breastfeeding).

Advertising of infant formula is prohibited by the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations 1995. Complaints have been submitted about such illegal promotion to enforcement authorities (Trading Standards, Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority) yet continued breaching of the regulations demonstrates the failure of these authorities to take the necessary action and weaknesses in the current legislation (the ASA refuses to even investigate reports of breaches of the law). The government has given a commitment to strengthen legislation and is currently pursuing changes at European Union level (see Update 35).

The Baby Feeding Law Group has exposed repeated illegal promotion of infant formula in major supermarket chains and Boots pharmacies. Earlier this year, Baby Milk Action exposed how authorities failed to stop advertising of Farley's formula on television (see press release 11 March 2005).

For further information contact: Patti Rundall on 0778652349.

Notes for Editors

A systematic review of available research on Longchain Polyunsatuarated Fatty Acid (LCPUFA) supplementation was made by the Cochrane Library (review dated 15th June 2001). This concluded:

“At present there is little evidence from randomised trials of LCPUFA supplementation to support the hypothesis that LCPUFA supplementation confers a benefit for visual or general development of term infants. Minor effects on VEP [Visual Evoked Potentials - measuring visual development] acuity have been suggested but appear unlikely when all studies are reviewed. A beneficial effect on information processing is possible but larger studies over longer periods are required to conclude that LCPUFA supplementation provides a benefit when compared with standard formula. Data from randomised trials do not suggest that LCPUFA supplements influence the growth of term infants.”

Scientific evidence has consistently demonstrated that artificial feeding increases mortality rates, increases rates for illnesses such as infectious diseases, chronic diseases and auto-immune diseases, offers less than optimal development and growth, lowers cognitive and visual development and increases the risk of obesity. (See The Guardian 5 February 2005 for a report on how WHO's recent research has led to it revising its baby growth charts).

The draft EU Directive permits the promotion of breastmilk substitutes and legitimizes new claims on labels which will mislead parents and undermine breastfeeding. They will permit new products to be marketed with health claims without first being proved safe or of benefit. Baby Milk Action’s position is that if an ingredient has undisputed health benefits proven by independent research, it ought to be a legally required ingredient in all formulas. Health claims are deceptive, intended to create a perceived advantage and to idealize, so undermining breastfeeding (click here for a briefing produced by IBFAN's International Code Documentation Centre). For comments submitted to the European Union see

press index