Koh Poh Koon, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s senior minister of state, is leading the six-member task force which is due to complete its work by the end of the year.
He addressed attendees of a community event for young parents over the weekend and, according to The Straits Times, suggested that if young children can consume solid foods, parents could feed them salmon in place of formula milk, since a tablespoon and a half of salmon contains as much DHA as 30 bottles of milk.
He said, "Competition only works if parents can make the right choices, but if parents keep on buying the most expensive brands, milk companies will keep on raising prices because they have a stranglehold on you."
He added that another task force member, Amy Khor, the senior minister of state for the Ministry of Health, was working with hospitals to make sure there is no conflict of interest — such as sponsorship deals — with formula milk manufacturers.
The other task force members are MPs Sun Xueling and Rahayu Mahzam, and senior paediatricians, associate professor Marion Aw and Dr Chan Yoke Hwee.
The rising prices of formula milk was highlighted earlier this year, after a report from the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) said that manufacturers’ R&D and marketing expenditure was inflating product prices.
This led to a task force being set up in order to restrict the health claims formula milk manufacturers were allowed to include on their product packaging, in the hopes of lowering prices.
While manufacturers are concerned about the impact any proposed regulations may have on their products and on consumer access to information, others claim it is necessary in order to boost breastfeeding rates.