The EU Commission’s proposals for new legislation covering the composition and marketing of baby foods and formulas have been sent to the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) I will post comments and a guide very soon so watch this space.
Following the EU’s internal consultation and the WTO process the EU Commission has strengthened some sections and we are glad of that. But the key changes have still not been made. The most important being that Member states will not be allowed to stop advertising and promotional claims for formulas above 6 months (they can stop advertising of infant formula from birth) or stop the labelling of baby foods from 4 months (with 30% sugar). These two weaknesses alone that contravene World Health Assembly recommendations, will have a very damaging impact on women and children’s rights to health and support in the EU and policies that affect child survival in developing countries. ( There are 17 new promotional claims on the table that could – if approved by Member States – appear on follow-on formulas, so called ‘Growing Up milks’, baby foods – any product for babies over 6 months).
This is very disappointing considering that apart from industry, most of those commenting urged the Commission to bring the proposals into the International Code and Resolutions. We will be urging MEPs to consider the EU’s role in the world and insist that the Precautionary Principle is followed and the strong recommendations of the World Health Assembly and the Codex Code of Ethics (1) are respected. Child health and women’s right to protection from misleading information is surely more important than the growth of the European baby food market.
What about growing-up milk?
In 2013 the Commission proposed that no specific rules should be set for growing-up milk on the basis that these products should be covered by other EU legislation. However, during negotiations, the European Parliament and Council asked the Commission to further assess and report back on these aspects.
The Commission was supposed to provide Parliament with a report based on the scientific advice of the European Food Safety Authority and its analysis of the nutritional needs of young children; the role of these products in the diet of young children; whether these products are necessary or beneficial to young children; and whether specific rules are needed. Since there is no sign of this report as yet the Parliament will be voting in the dark – with no idea of the impact of their decision.
A few months AFTER the MEPs voted on the Basic legislation in October 2013m the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) produced a report on these formulas saying:’Growing-up’ formula: No additional value to a balanced diet, says EFSA’
Here are the Commission’s final proposals:
Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula
FSMP (Foods for Special Medical Purposes)
CLICK HERE: 609-2013 for the Basic Over-arching Regulation adopted in 2013 covering all the above:
Regulation (EU) No 609/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12th June 2013on food intended for infants and young children, food for special medical purposes, and total diet replacement for weight control and repealing Council Directive 92/52/EEC, Commission Directives 96/8/EC, 1999/21/EC, 2006/125/EC and 2006/141/EC, Directive 2009/39/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Regulations (EC) No 41/2009 and (EC) No 953/2009
1 The Codex Code of Ethics for International Trade in Food calls on Member States to: “make sure that the international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes and relevant resolutions of the World Health Assembly (WHA) setting forth principles for the protection and promotion of breast-feeding be observed.”