Saturday, October 24, 2009

UK law review draft report is a whitewash that side steps the real issues so as to clear formula promotion

If you are in the UK, please check out the latest news about our baby formula marketing regulations. Baby Milk Action has launched a quick campaign to protect breastfeeding and babies fed on formula and we need you help!

A government commissioned report on the effectiveness of the law has just been published as a draft. It is a whitewash. The Independent Review Panel did not examine how advertising and other promotion of formula undermines breastfeeding and misleads parents who use formula. Instead it only considered whether follow-on formula is being fed to babies under 6 months instead of infant formula by mistake.

On this basis it concludes there is basically no problem with the current law which allows companies to target mothers with promotional materials and inaccurate information, to offer gifts, advertise, make point-of-sale promotion, give inducements to health workers etc. etc.

The law should be protecting breastfeeding and protecting babies fed on formula. It is failing in this, as the evidence clearly shows - if the Panel would just consider it. This is contained in monitoring reports prepared by Baby Milk Action and in other submissions, including from Trading Standards, which has the task of enforcing the law.

You can send a message to the Minister for Public Health asking the government to send the report back to include these issues, or to otherwise reject it as a waste of public money. See:


Rob A said...

Mike, I am lost in all this. The regulations were introduced. Then they were suspended - to be reviewed. Now the review is done. Am I right in thinking the regulations are not in force yet?

Mike Brady said...

Hi Rob,

The action sheet gives the background: "Last year the UK Government promised a year-long review of the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations 2007 and the Guidance Notes that accompany them. All UK health worker and mother support groups and the Government's own Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition had called for stronger measures than those implemented during the consultation on them."

So the Regulations are in force (except the labeling and composition requirements that come into force in 2010) - but are not stopping promotion on the internet, carelines, in health facilities and through advertising of follow-on formula. The review was an opportunity to examine these marketing strategies and their impact, but the Panel did not consider these issues - just the issue of whether follow-on formula is being fed to babies under 6 months of age instead of infant formula by mistake.