Friday, February 29, 2008

UK court case over - now its time to prosecute the companies for illegal labelling

The industry challenge to the UK Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations at the High Court in London came to an end today with the Judge ruling that companies will have 2 years to bring labels into line with the 2007 version of the Regulations which were due to come into force on 11 January 2008. Companies will have to comply with all other parts of the Regulations immediately.

Baby Milk Action presented evidence to the court suggesting that as labels on the market are non-compliant with the 1995 version of the Regulations and companies have already been warned by Trading Standards they must change these labels, it would have made far more sense to comply directly with the 2007 Regulations.

Now that the ruling has been made, Baby Milk Action is calling for Trading Standards to act to take illegal labels off the market. Both 1995 and 2007 Regulations only allow a limited range of claims on labels. Many of those currently in use are not on the list, including:

* Immunofortis
* Prebiotics and Prebiotic care
* New improved protein balance
* Easily digested

Both the 1995 and 2007 Regulations also prohibit idealizing text and images from labels. Trading Standards have already warned various companies they must change their labels to comply.

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action said: "This will hopefully be a hollow victory for the companies as we have been able to present evidence to the court showing that labels on the market are non-compliant with both the 1995 and 2007 version of the Regulations. Companies introduced new labels from April 2007 after being reminded of the these provisions by the authorities, but have not removed all non-compliant claims, so let us hope they will now move to prosecute. The public have been subjected to this misleading promotion for far too long.

"We did want the 2007 labelling provisions to come into force so companies would bring their warnings and instructions into line with the Food Standards Agency guidance to parents to reduce the risks of possible contamination with harmful bacteria. The FSA introduced their guidance to parents in 2005 and it is very troubling that companies have won this delay until 2010 - this unwillingness to provide essential information shows the contempt with which companies treat those parents who do use formula."

Full press release will be available on the Baby Milk Action website shortly. See:
http://www.babymilkaction.org/

2 comments:

Rob A said...

I look forward to reading what we can do practically now about the Regs. I am not entirely sure what is coming into effect and what isn't. For instance, are we able to complain about shops that don't keep the infant and follow-on formulas separate?

Mike Brady said...

This is a good guestion. The Guidance Notes that accompany the law, where this requirement is explicitly stated, have not yet been issued as the consultation has only recently finished. I'll report when they are published.

Certainly report anything that you think may be a violation to:
http://www.babyfeedinglawgroup.org.uk.