Protecting babies from commercial pressures –
WBTi Indicator 3
Babies are vulnerable, so it’s crucial that decisions about how they are fed are made objectively, not influenced by advertising or other marketing ploys such as price reductions. Also, babies have a single source of nourishment – milk – in the first few months so it’s essential it’s of high quality. For breastfed babies, the mother’s body ensures quality, tailored to her baby’s needs. For infant formula you’d expect regular independent testing to ensure quality. But such testing very rarely happens!
To address this, Alison Thewliss MP introduced her Feeding Products for Babies and Children (Advertising and Promotion) Bill to Parliament in November 2016. The aim of the Bill is to set standards for infant feeding products aimed at babies and children up to 36 months, and their marketing, with penalties for advertisers and promoters who do not meet the standards.
The 2nd reading of the bill is timetabled for 24 March. If this Bill is to progress MPs need to support it. That means they need to understand the damage infant formula marketing can do, by influencing and thus restricting choice, especially when promotion is misleading and labelling confusing. Will your MP support the Bill?
Concurrently, Baby Milk Action is producing a detailed UK monitoring report to show that the formula industry needs to be regulated better to protect babies fed on formula. It includes profiles of the relevant companies, an explanation of the International Code and Resolutions, analysis of changes needed in the UK Law and a summary. It’s therefore a valuable source of evidence.
Further information about the composition of formula milks, ingredient claims and costs are available from the charity First Steps Nutrition: http://www.firststepsnutrition.org/newpages/Infant_Milks/infant_milks.html
WBTi report gaps and recommendations for the UK
Indicator 3: Implementation of the International Code
These actions work towards implementing recommendations of Indicator 3 of the WBTi report, recommendations which include full implementation of the Code and Resolutions and coordinated enforcement. These changes would help to protect both babies fed on formula and breastfed babies, improving public health.
What you can do
1. Ask your MP to attend the 2nd reading of the Bill on 24th March. http://www.babymilkaction.org/archives/12254
Raise awareness of the monitoring report as evidence for the need for better formula industry regulation. http://www.babymilkaction.org/monitoringuk17