- Why Complain?
- What can I complain about?
- What is the WHO Code?
- New adverts to complain about
- How to Complain
We all know that breastmilk is the best start a baby can have in life but unfortunately for Infant Formula companies there is no money in mums feeding their babies all by themselves. They will do their very best to sell artifical milk to the detriment of the health of the babies, exclusive breastfeeding protects children from all sorts of meanies, formula does not and can in fact lead to allergies.
So, if you see Infant Formula being promoted in an illegal or irresponsible way you can complain about it.
What can I complain about?
There is a law in the UK against promoting infant formula in shops and in the media (no special offers, no money off coupons, end of aisle displays or extra reward points for example) but not for follow on formula which personally I think was thought up just to slip through the legal net.
Here are the The Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations 1995 in full. And here are some useful snippets:
15. The labelling of any infant formula and any follow-on formula shall
- (a) be designed to provide the necessary information about the appropriate use of the product so as not to discourage breast-feeding;
- (b) not contain the terms “humanized”, “maternalized” or any similar term suggesting that the product is equivalent or superior to breast milk,
and the term “adapted” may be used only in relation to adapted protein and then only in conformity with the provisions of regulation 13(3).
Restrictions on advertising of follow-on formulae
18. No person shall publish or display any advertisement for a follow-on formula which does not comply with the requirements, prohibitions and restrictions relating to labelling contained in regulation 15.
Restrictions on promotion of infant formulae
- 19. No person shall at any place where any infant formula is sold by retail
- (a) advertise any infant formula;
- (b) make any special display of an infant formula designed to promote sales;
- (c) give away
- (i) any infant formula as a free sample; or
- (ii) any coupon which may be used to purchase an infant formula at a discount;
- (d) promote the sale of an infant formula by means of premiums, special sales, loss- leaders or tie-in sales; or
- (e) undertake any other promotional activity to induce the sale of an infant formula.
Provision of information and education regarding infant and child feeding
21.(1) No person shall produce or publish any informational and educational (or informational or educational) materials, whether written or audiovisual, dealing with the feeding of infants and intended to reach pregnant women and mothers of infants and young children, unless (subject to paragraph (2) below) such materials include clear information on all the following points
- (a) the benefits and superiority of breast-feeding;
- (b) maternal nutrition and the preparation for, and the maintenance of, breast- feeding;
- (c) the possible negative effect on breast-feeding of introducing partial bottle- feeding;
- (d) the difficulty of reversing the decision not to breast-feed; and
- (e) where needed, the proper use of an infant formula or of infant formulae, whether manufactured industrially or home prepared.
And as for follow on formula – this is beautifully put by the Baby Feeding Law Group
“Promotion of follow-on formula is permitted by the UK Law, but not the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. It is still worth complaining, citing the International Code as this strengthens our case for bringing the UK Law into line with the Code.
The World Health Assembly has adopted Resolutions recommending exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age and stating that complementary feeding should be fostered from ‘about 6 months’. It is, therefore, inappropriate for complementary foods (weaning foods) and other substances such as teas and juices to be promoted for use before 6 months of age. This is not yet covered by UK Law. You could bring these recommendations to the attention of your local
Trading Standards Office and the relevant establishment where they are being broken.”
What is the WHO Code?
The “International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes” was drawn up by the World Health Organization.
This is from the
IBFANwebsite and you can click the link to read the full code.
“The International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes presents a code, developed jointly by WHO and UNICEF, for the marketing of breast-milk substitutes. The code applies to the marketing of breast-milk substitutes, including infant formula, and other milk products, foods, and beverages, including bottle-fed complementary foods, when marketed or otherwise represented to be suitable for use as a partial or total replacement of breast milk. The code deals in successive articles with information and education needs concerning the feeding of infants, advertising or other forms of promotion to the general public, and standards for product labelling and quality.”
And here is a useful snippet:
“5.3 In conformity with paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article, there should be no point-of-sale advertising, giving of samples, or any other promotion device to induce sales directly to the consumer at the retail level, such as special displays, discount coupons, premiums, special sales, loss leaders and tie-in sales, for products within the scope of this Code. This provision should not restrict the establishment of pricing policies and practices intended to provide products at lower prices on a long-term basis.”
New adverts to Complain About
6th March 2007 Organic Life Magazine has adverts promoting infant formula which is illegal.
6th March 2007 Asda has bright red acetate over the prices of its infant formula. This draws the eye to the price and is therefore illegal promotion.
6th March 2007 Here is a letter from Lactivist Jenny, asking Blooming Marvelous to withdraw their romper suits with bottles on.
Dear Blooming Marvellous,
Last year I emailed and complained about a romper suit that had the slogan “Party, Where? My cot, Time; 2am, When; every night, Bring a bottle” as things like this undermine breastfeeding by normalising bottle/formula feeding. I was in your Chester store today and I see that not only are you still selling an updated version of it, but also two other rompers with bottle motiefs and slogans on them.
Did you know that recently Marks and Spencers withdrew a romper with a bottle motief on it after complaints about it? I devote a lot of my time as a volunteer promoting and supporting breastfeeding, and things like this which make bottlefeeding out to be the normal way to feed a baby undo so much of the work that people like me spend so much time doing. Whilst these rompers are not actually in breech of the 1995 law on Infant Formula, they are in breech of the spirit of the World Health Organisation Code.
You may say that as a company you support breastfeeding, but if you continue to sell items like these you are actually almost promoting formula use, and this is immoral, unethical and irresponsible.
I ask you once again to withdraw these rompers.
Go Jenny! If you want to complain to them directly the email is email@example.com
27th January 2007 Healthy Start is a scheme where you can get free vouchers every week which you swap for milk, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and infant formula milk. You can also get free vitamins. Healthy Start replaces the Welfare Food Scheme.
On the page describing what you can buy with the vouchers there is a paragraph about Infant formula but nothing about the benefits of breastfeeding, the WHO guidelines for BF exclusively for 6 months, nothing about support groups or helplines.
The contact us box only allows you 500 characters so if you are complaining you might need a couple of trys, unless you want to phone them for a rant on 0845 607 6823.
A big Lactivist BOOOOOO to the Life Channel who are advertising SMA in GP waiting rooms. If less babies were fed SMA there would be less people in the waiting rooms!
15th January 2007 Mother & Baby Magazine marketing mailings from
www.motherandbabymagazine.com “HiPP Organic Purely Fruits are ideal for babies and children of all ages
from 4 months onwards” Tut tut tut, we all know that the Code guidelines say nothing but breastmilk until 6 months. Of course this means that Hipp stand to lose millions of £ in sales and the magazines stand to lose advertising revenue but what is more important? Babies health or money?
thank you Stella for this. “There is major hoohah in the Phillipines at the mo because the Govt brought in a law to restrict advertising of formula in a move to protect breastfeeding and it is being challenged – by 3 formula manufacturers. The US Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to the Phillipine Govt advising them to re-consider or risk dis-investment! Please see
Baby Milk Action website for further details.”
thank you Stella for this one too.
“I don’t know if any of you have spotted the Cow & Gate advertisement for the Healthy Start initiative? It is a full page advert too. It shows a baby sitting holding an empty bottle, surrounded by healthy fruit and vegetables. It is so totally misleading. It appeared in the Daily Mail on Friday 8th, poss Mon 11th, the Daily Mirror and the Sun too! Please feel free to contact the
Advertising Standards Authority to complain – the more the better!. The advert reads:”Heard about Healthy Start but don’t know where to start? That’s why we’re here to help.” Cow and Gate logo prominent and gives the C&G helpline number. When you ring it, it gives them the chance to embed their name into your memory and all they do is give you the official Govt helpline number for further info. It really gives people the impression that C&G have something to do with the initiative – which they don’t.”
If you spot any dodgy marketing of formula and you want me to publicise it justmail me I can put pictures up too.
How to Complain
You can fill in an online form on the
The Baby Feeding Law Group website. They say to send them “information even if you think someone else may have done so. Your reports will help us to build up a picture of baby food marketing practices across the UK. We will use this in our campaign to have the International Code and Resolutions implemented in UK legislation. Where practices break the existing legislation we may be able to encourage the authorities to take action.”
You can complain to your local
Trading Standards Office saying that the law has been broken and formula has been illegally advertised. Remember that the law only applies to infant formula and that currently people are allowed to promote follow on formula but that is in breach of the WHO code.
UK baby food laws are not as strict as the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and it is currently legal to promote follow on milk. The Baby Feeding Law Group is working to get the UK to International standards and they are the people to tell if you are unhappy with the way a company is promoting infant formula.
Baby Milk Action is a non profit organisation that aims to save babies from the ill effects of formula. Water mixed with baby milk powder can be unsafe and it is often impossible in poor conditions to keep bottles and teats sterile. Unsterile bottle feeding can lead to infections that kill children and formula is also expensive, often costing more than half the entire family income.
The International Baby Food Action Network consists of public interest groups working around the world to reduce infant and young child morbidity and mortality. They monitor the baby feeding industry and produce profiles showing how companies such as Danone, Gerber, Heinz, Hipp, Milupa and Nestlé promote formula and baby food in innapropriate ways. Check out the picture of the health worker in a Nestle apron!