We issued a press release today as it was confirmed that the UK Advertising Standards Authority sees nothing wrong with Wyeth promoting its SMA formulas in a television advertisement containing zero scientific and factual information. The advertisement is a declaration of love from a father to his partner, including promises of continued support, including with night feeds. You can find the press release at:
As I say in my quote, the ASA has demonstrated once again that the regulatory system here is not fit for purpose. While the ASA interprets the UK law to declare the advertisement legal, it is also supposed to be 'decent, honest and truthful', which to my mind means it should comply with the World Health Assembly marketing requirements companies claim to support and are called on to abide by independently of government action. The ASA has told me they will only consider these measures if they are introduced in UK law. Despite a broad coalition of health advocates calling for that to be done, the government has refused.
This has prompted the following Early Day Motion from Lynne Jones MP, a long-time campaigner for the rights of mothers to accurate and independent information on infant feeding:
That this House notes the Government's responsibility to implement the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly (WHA) through national measures to protect breastfeeding and to ensure the safe use of breastmilk substitutes if these are necessary; regrets its failure to act on the advice of its own Scientific Committee on Nutrition, LACORS, the health professional bodies, and health advocates making up the Baby Feeding Law Group, through the proposed Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations, by failing to prohibit promotion of follow-on formula, health and nutrition claims and companies targeting parents or to require improved warnings and instructions to reduce risk of formula use; and urges the Government to bring the regulations into line with the International Code and WHA resolutions which call for such prohibition.
Please do contact your MP asking him or her to sign the EDM or thanking them for doing so if they have already. You can check at:
A quick and easy way to contact your MP is through the website:
I have sent a message saying: "I am contacting you to ask you to sign EDM 608. I am greatly concerned that the government is refusing to act on the recommendations of its own advisors, health worker professional bodies and other health advocates in revising the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations. I believe that breastfeeding needs to be protected from aggressive marketing and that parents who use formula have a right to accurate and objective information on the differences between products and how to reduce risks of use. The government appears to disagree and, as requested by the baby food industry, is refusing to implement international marketing standards that have been introduced in many other countries."
Parliament is on holiday for Christmas, but MPs can sign as soon as they get back. Time is short as the Minister for Public Health has already signed the regulations and they will come into force at the end of January unless Parliament takes action.
You can send a message to the Ministers for Health via our page: