Food Standards Agency pushes for changes to baby formula ad rules

The Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health have published an independent review looking at the effectiveness of controls on the advertising of follow-on formula, calling for changes to the ways in which they are advertised.

The agency says that the review focuses only on formula intended for babies over the age of six months.

It follows a number of concerns about the way these products are advertised and also deals with consumer fears that it might be confused with infant formula.

The report was commissioned by the then minister of state for public health, Dawn Primarolo, who asked an independent panel of experts to assess whether the new rules on advertising in the regulations were working.

The review found that current controls are having the desired effect in the main, but some adverts are not always clearly understood as being for follow-on formula rather than infant formula.

Infant formula is not allowed to be advertised and action is recommended to address this, the review says.
There is also not sufficient evidence of confusion between infant formula and follow-on formula to justify a ban on the advertising of follow-on formula.

The review also recommends that manufacturers should make changes to advertising, to make it clear that follow-on formula is intended for babies over six months. This includes clearly representing the age of babies in the adverts.

Any problems encountered with the enforcement of the regulations should be addressed through clearer guidance for enforcement bodies.

European regulations have been in place in 2006 which, among other things, aim to reduce confusion for parents.

The panel’s report has now been submitted to Gillian Merron, the Minister of State for Public Health, for her consideration.

Heinz is considering axing its range of Nurture baby milks in the UK.

The move follows the Advertising Standards Authority banning a TV advertisement for Heinz’s Nurture for misleading consumers.

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