UK: Parliamentary campaign launched to enforce infant formula marketing regulations
Baby Milk Action - Press Release 20 July 2007
A Parliamentary campaign has been launched calling on the regulatory authorities to enforce infant formula labelling regulations on baby food companies that continue to flout the requirements introduced over 12 years ago. Lynne Jones, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, tabled an Early Day Motion yesterday calling for offending products to be relabelled or removed from sale and for prosecutions to be
brought for willful flouting of the regulations. The Food Standards Agency wrote to companies
last year to remind them of the labelling provisions contained in the
Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations 1995, but companies have both continued to sell formula that does not comply and to launch new labels that do not comply. Last month a Government Minister, responding to a question from Dr. Jones, said that authorities had been encouraged to
enforce the legislation. However, no legal action has yet been taken.
Dr Lynne Jones MP said: "If companies do not follow the law, then the law has to be enforced."
The regulations set out that only 6 claims are permitted on infant formula labels, such as sucrose free or iron enriched. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) warned companies that only these claims may be used and examples of non-compliant claims were given, as follows: "Omega 3 LCPs for development. Nucleotides help growth and the immune system. Beta-carotene helps the immune system,
Prebiotics supporting baby´s natural defences, Closer than ever to breast milk." Trading Standards officers have been encouraged to act with a guidance note being brought to their attention. However, formula with these claims remains on sale over 6 months later and new labels have been launched
by the major manufacturers with similar claims and other idealizing text and images prohibited by the regulations.
According to a Government survey, 34% of mothers incorrectly believe that formula is the same,
or almost the same, as breastmilk (ref: Myths stop mothers giving their babies the best start in life).
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:
"It is a disgrace that companies have put illegal labels on the market for the past 12 years and
got away with it. Worse still that having been reminded of the law´s provisions by the Food Standards
Agency, the major companies have shown their contempt by launching new labels that break those
provisions. Legal action by Trading Standards officers is well overdue and we welcome the
encouragement the Government has given them to enforce the legislation. It shouldn´t be
necessary for Parliament to campaign for a law to be enforced, but as there has been no legal action,
we very much hope the initiative from Lynne Jones MP will have an effect and we call on all MPs to sign the EDM. The Government is currently conducting a revision of the law and we call on it to bring this
weak law into line with international standards, close loopholes and ensure there are more effective enforcement mechanisms."
Read more: http://www.babymilkaction.org/press/press20july07.html