Six of the world’s leading infant formula manufacturers are opposing a Hong Kong government proposal to ban the promotion of baby food products for children under the age of three.
A Hong Kong Code of Marketing and Quality of Formula Milk and Related Products, and Food Products for Infant & Young Children is currently being developed by the Hong Kong government. If adopted, the code will ban the promotion of baby food – including infant formula – for children up to the age of 36 months.
“The aim of this code is to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants and young children. It is part of a comprehensive strategy to promote, protect and support breastfeeding,” said a statement from the HK government.
The Hong Kong Infant and Young Child Nutrition Association - formed by Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Danone, FrieslandCampina, Nestlé and Pfizer-owned Wyeth - has slammed the Hong Kong government plans.
Global best practices
In a document presented to the Hong Kong Legislative Council (Legco) Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene and Panel on Health Services earlier today, the trade body argued that the proposed ban conflicts with global best practice.
“The Association believes the draft Code is NOT in the best interest of Hong Kong infants and young children as well as mothers,” said a statement submitted by the group.
According to the Hong Kong Infant and Young Child Nutrition Association, any regulations surrounding the promotion of infant formula should follow the WHO Code Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes and other global best practices.
The WHO Code confines regulations relating to infant formula promotion to products targeted at children under the age of six months.
“Considering the practices in developed countries with similar economic characteristics to Hong Kong, and the WHO Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, the Association believes marketing practices in Hong Kong should be governed through legislation for breastmilk substitutes for infants aged up to 6 months,” said the group.
“There is no scientific evidence to show promotion on food for children 6 months of above has affected the breastfeeding rates and its duration,” it added.
“Any biased, over-regulation in infant formula marketing will be contrary to Hong Kong’s open free market economy and damaging to the fundamental right of consumers to information and choices.”
More to follow.....