News of more formula promotion in a celebrity magazine in the UK. The Baby Feeding Law Group monitoring project we coordinate began to record advertisements in fashion magazines as well as parenting magazines a few years ago.
Now people are reporting advertisements in celebrity magazines. Companies are becoming more aggressive in their marketing strategies.
You can help our UK monitoring and campaign work to continue by taking advantage of our August promotion. You can also report violations yourself (many thanks to everyone that does) at:
The latest advertisement appears in Reveal magazine (18 - 24 August 2007). It is ostensibly for Aptamil follow-on milk, headlined: "Your baby's natural immune system. We've done the research, he's doing the development".
"You protect him from the outside; now you can help support him from the inside with Aptamil Follow on milk. After 50 years of research into breastmilk, our Aptamil research experts have developed IMMUNOFORTIS, a patented mix of special prebiotics. This unique formulation helps to support your baby's natural immune system, making it the best follow on milk."
We already know Trading Standards are unlikely to act because the UK law allows follow-on milk advertising. We argue such advertisements are de facto infant formula advertising and so illegal because the infant formula has the same branding and is promoted on the website this advertisement directs people to. Companies are simply exploiting a loophole in the law. But there is little chance of action until the loopholes are closed, which you can help to achieve by supporting our campaign with our partners in the Baby Feeding Law Group and Breastfeeding Manifesto coalition. See:
The absurdity of the current situation is that Aptamil is linked in the advertisement to breastmilk, with its claim 'inspired by breastmilk', but it is not covered by the UK regulations for breastmilk substitutes. The UK law only prohibits advertising of infant formula.
The situation is even worse, though. The UK law prohibits claims on infant formula, such as 'inspired by breastmilk', 'prebiotics' and 'immunofortis' as it only allows 6 specified claims to be used. These Aptamil claims are not on the list. The list, in the official guidance to Trading Standards officers, can be downloaded here. For analysis of Aptamil's new infant formula label see:
Action by Trading Standards on these claims in a follow-on milk advertisement is unlikely, regardless of how misleading they are, because of the loopholes in the law. Their hands are tied.
But what of the advertising industry's self-regulatory body, the Advertising Standards Authority? Well, I wrote yesterday of how it fails in its responsibility to ensure advertising is 'legal, decent, honest and truthful' by refusing to investigate the majority of such claims, including the recent Wyeth/SMA promotion in OK! Magazine. See:
We have exhausted ourselves and the ASA arguing that 'decent, honest and truthful' advertising should be in line with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly. These are regulations companies should abide by independently of government measures. The ASA disagrees.
I have reported this advertising to the ASA anyway, but using a different approach, noting:
The advertisement states: "This unique formulation helps to support your baby's natural immune system, making it the best follow on milk."
I question the claim that it supports baby's natural immune system given the ASA has ruled against a similar claim by Cow & Gate, which is owned by the same company as Aptamil.
I question the claim that Aptamil is the best follow on milk as all companies are claiming their milk is the best. They cannot all be the best. You can find my blog on how companies all claim to be the best at:
Let us see if the ASA will take any action. We are talking about the health and well-being of babies after all, not which shampoo or chocolate bar is claimed to be the best.
What we really need, of course, is an end to company propaganda and more objective and accurate information from health workers. That's why we are calling for the government to implement the International Code and Resolutions and the other measures in the Breastfeeding Manifesto. So please do help the campaign by taking advantage of our August promotion and visiting the action page: