Wednesday, August 22, 2007

False claims on infant formula bared

The media in the Philippines has picked up on the joint press release from health agencies there, which I wrote about yesterday. See:

Here is one of the articles, in the Manila Standard. See:

It is headlined: "False claims on infant formula bared". It leads on the news that powdered infant formula is not sterile and that this fact is not disclosed to the public by the baby food industry.

The same is true in the UK. Only one company includes this fact on its labels, but then it contradicts the expert advice on how to reduce the risks.

We have been calling for Trading Standards and the Food Standards Agency to take urgent action to ensure that parents who use formula have the information they need. We have also told parents where they can find independent information. I've written about this topic several times on this blog and we have tried to alert the UK media to the scandal with a press release of our own. See:

While the UK media has given publicity recently to concerns over breastfeeding being undermined by aggressive company marketing, it has missed the point about the need for parents who use formula to be protected and to be provided with accurate and independent information. This is as much an aim of the call for international marketing standards to be implemented in the UK.

While babies in the UK who are formula-fed are unlikely to die as happens too frequently in the Philippines, there are still short and long-term health implications.

While it may be attractive for journalists to stir up controversy - and attract readers - by portraying our work and that of our partners as anti-formula, I do hope they will sooner or later give coverage to the work we do on behalf to those who use formula. This is, after all, an important public health issue.

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