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Thursday, November 22, 2007

New Labeling Rules Proposed in the UK

The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced new regulations it proposes for the labeling of baby formula, according to an article on NutraIngredients.com by Alex McNally.

The FSA said under the guidelines only a small number of health and nutrition claims will be permitted on packaging for formula milk.

Lactose only, lactose free, added long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCP), reduced risk of allergy to milk proteins and nutrition linked to nucleotides, taurine and oligosaccharides will be the only claims allowed.

Restrictions on marketing and promotion will outlaw directly targeting formula to new parents. Promotional material for infant formulas will not be able to feature text or images relating to pregnancy, including pictures of children under six months of age or images inciting a comparison to breast milk.

Rosemary Hignett, the FSA's head of nutrition, said the measures would protect mothers and babies.

She said: "The guidance provides clear direction to industry on the action they must take in order to comply with the new regulations. The new controls will provide the protection that mothers and babies need and deserve."

Despite the precautions, an activist breastfeeding group, Baby Milk Action, denounced the regulations as "an inadequate response and will continue to put UK mothers and babies health at risk in favour of the interests of the formula milk industries."

Activists in many parts of the world continue to battle makers of formula for trying to persuade new mothers to discontinue breastfeeding for the "ease" of using formula. I'm certainly sympathetic to this cause. I've always championed breastfeeding for any mother capable of doing so.

However, I'm perhaps more sensitive than the breastfeeding activists to those mothers whose babies' allergies, diseases, surgeries, or other ailments prevent them from breastfeeding and require them to rely on formula. Complete and completely informative labeling on those formulas are a must.

If the rules proposed are inadequate in this regard, then by all means work to change them. But get the labeling on the formula first before you argue about the larger policies.

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