Thursday

Industry response to the UK formula regulations - and photographic evidence

There have been reports in all the major dailies in the UK and quite a few websites about the new Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations which the government plans to put before Parliament shortly. It announced these yesterday and launched a consultation on the guidelines to go with them.

You can find out more and follow links to some of the media coverage from our press release at:
http://www.babymilkaction.org/press/press21nov07.html

As you will see Baby Milk Action or other members of the Baby Feeding Law Group are quoted in most of the reports.

I won't go through what's in the press release again here, but will write highlight two things with the media coverage today.

Firstly, my colleague Patti Rundall, came in with some of the papers and we were looking through them. There was a massive picture in one of the papers of some formula on a supermarket shelf. 'That's my picture!' I exclaimed. Patti didn't believe me, pointing out that formula is sold in a lot of supermarkets. But I was adamant I recognised the picture and quickly pulled it up on our flickr photo archive. We link to this from our website.

You can find the archive at:
http://www.flickr.com/babymilkaction/

A great innovation for hard-pressed picture editors, and one that clearly helped out the paper in question on this occassion. But if you are planning to use an image, please do check out the copyright restrictions. And a fee would be appreciated when possible. We would also like to be informed where images are used.

The second point is the industry position which appeared on the BBC website at:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7105403.stm

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Roger Clarke, head of the Infant and Dietetic Foods Association, said the new guidelines looked to be a "pretty sensible, measured approach from the government, although industry will still have to look in detail at what is planned".

He added: "All the data suggests that advertising is not a factor when it comes to women's decision to choose infant formula over breastfeeding. There are many other issues, from physical pain to achieving a balanced lifestyle."
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This is the same IDFA which opposed any strengthening of the regulations in the consultation just finished. Our press release quotes their response.

So if IDFA is happy with the guidelines that is a bad sign.

In the separate consultation on those we will be calling on your assistance in strengthening them. As I wrote yesterday, the government has said that in the guidelines it will interpret the legislation in light of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly.

The press release links to the draft guidelines. They make interesting reading, well, at least they are if you are like me and see the significance of individual words being included or not.

Whether IDFA will be so supportive when it comes to its submission on the guidelines remains to be seen. For example, what does it really make of the proposal that follow-on formula must be sold in a separate part of the supermarket to the infant formula? The government shied away from banning the promotion of follow-on milk and this is a proposal for stopping follow-on formula promotion functioning to also promote infant formula.

At present the follow-on formula promotions are used to promote the full range. They dominate the infant feeding sections, and most people wouldn't register they escape through loopholes in the law because they don't specifically mention infant formula.

If you want to see some pictures, visit our photo archive.

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