Tuesday, December 04, 2007

UK Minister to answer your questions

I wrote yesterday about efforts by the UK government to consult experts and the public on matters of policy.

On Thursday the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson MP, will answer questions in a webchat.

Here the Minister invites you to take part:

Mr. Johnson suggests the government's recently announced plan to tackle cancer is one of the topics to be covered. Perhaps relevant then, to recall the importance of breastfeeding to reduce cancer risks for mothers and their children in later life. See my blog on the World Cancer Fund report released at the end of October at:

But we are not only concerned about the 9 out of 10 women who stopped breastfeeding at 6 weeks and said they wanted to breastfeed for longer. Or the 40% who breastfed for 6 months, but also wanted to breastfeed longer.

At present I am particularly concerned about those who use formula. The government has rejected the call by health experts and its own advisors, including those representing Trading Standards officers, calling for warnings that powdered formula is not sterile and improved instructions on how to reduce the risks.

In its spinning of the regulations last month, the government's line was the small changes it was making to restrict advertising was to increase breastfeeding rates, which provoked a backlash in parts of the media.

Empowering mothers to breastfeed is, indeed, part of the aim of the international standards, but so is protecting those who use formula.

So that is the question I hope Mr. Johnson will answer on Thursday at 5 pm. Why has the government abandoned parents to the misleading information from the formula companies instead of protecting their right to accurate information.

Remember the parents in Belgium who took legal action over the death of their child from contaminated formula and the fact they were not informed of the risks. They lost their case because Nestlé had complied with the law on labelling, even if it did not alert parents of the known risks and how to reduce them. Companies in the UK will be able to make the same claim if such tragedies occur here. Unless Mr. Johnson changes the proposed regulations.

Please do register your own question and return on Thursday to hear the answer, if there will be an answer. See:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've submitted this:
Why are campaigners, like Baby Milk Action and the like, doing your job for you, both in raising public awareness about the unethical and unhealthy activities of infant food corporations and, in their efforts to prevent such companies from exploiting loopholes in the consistently lax marketing regulations?