Lobby group demands tightening of baby-formula ad ban

The Baby Feeding Law Group (BFLG) has called for advertising and marketing codes to be changed to prevent baby-food manufacturers promoting breast-milk substitutes to the general public. It follows an Early Day Motion, tabled in May, that called upon the Government to introduce legislation on baby-milk marketing (MW May 13).

BFLG is highlighting cases – such as promotions by Cow & Gate and Wyeth – where companies are exploiting loopholes in the law, to the Food Standards Agency. BFLG is made up of a number of health and lobby groups including Baby Milk Action, the Food Commission and the Royal College of Midwives.

The group says manufacturers are able to promote their product ranges to the public by offering pointers such as website addresses in ads for their other products and also because there is no code to prevent them from advertising to medical professionals such as midwives.

BFLG is lobbying the FSA to look at the role of the Advertising Standards Authority, as well as calling for changes to Ofcom and Fair Trading codes. Baby Milk Action campaigns and networking co-ordinator Mike Brady says UK law does not support regulators, so there is nothing that they can do to stop infant formulas being promoted.

The law that prohibits the promotion of breast-milk substitutes was introduced as part of the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations of 1995. It includes parts of the World Health Assembly International code on Marketing Breast-Milk Substitutes.

The Government is in talks with the FSA about bringing UK law in line with the international code and also claims to be committed to promoting breast-feeding.

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