Friday, November 23, 2007

Don't mothers who use formula deserve protection?

So here we go again. Articles on moves to regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes in the UK are followed by opinion pieces attacking 'breastfeeding bullies'.

Here is one in today's Daily Express:

One of the great things with newspapers like the Express is you are able to leave comments. This is mine:


23.11.07, 1:17pm

It is very sad that there is not greater understanding over why the UK government is being called on to introduce the baby formula marketing standards adopted by the World Health Assembly and introduced by many other countries.

The aim of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes - which companies are called on to abide by independently of government measures - clearly states it is to protect and promote breastfeeding AND to ensure breastmilk substitutes are used safely if necessary.

One of the great failures of the regulations that the government plans to introduce is they do not require companies to warn parents that powdered formula is not sterile and the simple steps to reduce risks of possible contamination with bacteria. The government has said that it will pursue a voluntary agreement with the industry. But this is an issue known about for years. The Food Standards Agency published its guidance to parents in 2005, but companies have not put this on their labels, despite launching new ones in 2007. A spot survey of company telephone carelines by Baby Milk Action found companies continue to misadvise parents.

It is also a mistake to believe advertising provides objective information - it does not. How could every company's claim that its formula is closer to breastmilk than its competitors to be true? Parents need objective, accurate, independent information and that is what the international standards aim for.

The Baby Feeding Law Group, a coalition of 22 health professional and mother support groups, submitted a report to the government consultation called 'Protecting breastfeeding - Protecting babies fed on formula' which contains plenty more evidence of how the industry and the government are failing parents.

Unfortunately some journalists find it is an easier narrative to pursue a bottle feeding v. breastfeeding angle, rather than examine why commercial pressure needs to be removed from the critically important area of infant feeding.

1 comment:

Ruth Moss said...

"The fanatics at the NCT..."

Words fail me.