UK FSA consult on infant nutrition

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Infant formula, Breastfeeding, Milk

A major round of consultation has begun by the UK's Food Standards
Agency on a European directive governing baby milk, which aims to
improve how infant nutrition is regulated.

The authority started gathering views on the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula (England) Regulations 2007 this week, with a view to implement it by the end of the year. Broadly speaking, the directive aims to make sure the rules governing baby food are equal for all member states. The new regulations cover a broad range of points hinged around making sure the nutritional value for any formula satisfies the nutritional requirements of the infant. It also hopes to make sure labelling and advertising is in line with the principles laid out in the European code (Commission Directive 2006/141/EC on infant formula and follow-on formula and amending Directive 1999/21/EC). Under the directive any information about infant feeding will not be able to counter the promotion of breastfeeding. For example, pictures or words on packets which "idealise" the use of the product will not be allowed. Rules about making sure no harmful materials, including pesticides, are included in milk substitutes are also included. The new regulation has been heavily criticized by the campaign group Baby Milk Action, which says the regulations are not strong enough. Mike Brady, the group's campaigns and networking coordinator, said: "This draft revised law …. has let down mothers and infants by apparently bowing to industry pressure and not prohibiting the promotion of all breast milk substitutes. "Mothers have a right to independent information on infant feeding and protection from the misleading and aggressive propaganda of the baby food companies and we will continue campaigning for the law to be brought into line with international standards. The present law is poorly enforced and the revision will not help the situation."​ The infant nutrition market is becoming more lucrative in the UK, worth an estimated £329 million in 2005, and increasingly companies are looking at how they can beast replicate the healthy profile of breast milk. If approved the new regulations will revoke and replace the existing Infant Formula and Follow on Formula Regulations 1995. Member states are required to adopt and publish laws and administrative provisions to implement the directive at a national level by the end of the year. Comments on the proposal should be sent to the FSA by September.

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