Thursday, July 30, 2009

Australian advice on choosing infant formula

I have written previously about the difficulty faced by parents and carers who are using formula when it comes to understanding which formula to use. See:

The following advice from the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Children and
Adolescents in Australia" from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council has been brought to my attention. This can be downloaded at:

“The prices of different infant formulas and the types of retail outlets that sell the formulas are not related to quality or nutritional value. All infant formulas sold in Australia meet the relevant nutritional and quality-control standards. Use of a particular formula by a hospital does not mean that formula is the ‘best’ one. Interchange between formulas within the same generic group is optional and can be decided on the basis of cost.”

This will be true of formulas in any country with food safety laws requiring products to comply with the standards of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

This addresses the confusion caused by the UK Department of Health position, which is that all formulas have to comply with composition standards (while advising against use of soya formula unless on medical advice - it is not legal to sell formula based on goat's milk), but does not respond to the question: "So does that mean it's okay to buy the cheapest?"

Straight talking Australian's have done so.

I believe, however, there should be an additional advice and we are calling on the health authorities to investigate and come up with clearer information. There are reports of some babies having an adverse reaction to some of the additional ingredients that companies add, such as Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (ingredients with no proven benefit, but which companies make great claims about). So it may be necessary to change a formula if the child does not react well to it - a health worker should be consulted.

Some suggest rotating formulas because the additional ingredients some companies add are effectively being tested on the public. Rotating means any possible harm will be reduced and any benefit - should there be any - will not be missed.

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