IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY TO PROTECT CHILD HEALTH 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE DEBATE that starts around 1 hour and 53 minutes after the start:
On Monday 21st December there was an important debate in the European Parliament’s  Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI)  about DRAFT MOTIONS FOR 3 RESOLUTIONS tabled by  Green MEP Keith Taylor. (page down for links and text)
The MOTIONs oppose the European Commission’s proposals for  Delegated Acts on Baby Foods and Formulas.
12 MEPs spoke – Six strongly in favour of Keith Taylor’s objections, adding some important arguments.  Six spoke against, with often confused and inaccurate statements, especially on  follow-on formula advertising, claiming that it is already controlled enough, that Member States can go further  and that in any case such advertising only in scientific journals that are not read by mothers.  Several went off track claiming that the proposals would make mothers feel guilty.  Many seemed to be unaware of  the widespread TV and parenting magazine advertising  and sponsorship – all in violation of the WHA resolutions.
MEPs will vote on Keith Taylor’s proposals  on January 14th 2016. If successful they will go to the full Plenary for a debate and vote on 21st January.  
CLICK HERE for ENVI members sorted by country and political party
Please contact your MEP on the ENVI committee and ask them to support Keith Taylor’s proposals (1) in the debate on Monday 21st December.
It would be helpful if you could remind MEPs that:
All EU countries have voted for Resolutions of the World Health Assembly that aim to ensure that products are safe and used appropriately, that all parents and carers receive objective and truly independent information about infant and young child feeding and that misleading promotion is ended.
The EU Commission’s proposals do not meet these minimum requirements. Indeed they  contradict them in several key areas and prevent Member States from carrying out their human rights obligations.  They allow advertising of baby formulas, promotional claims, risky ingredients and high levels of sugar in baby foods.   

Promotional claims highlight one or other ingredient,  distorting parents perceptions of the need, safety,  value and risks of products as a whole.  EU funded research shows how parents of young children are disproportionately targeted, with over 70% of baby formulas and foods carrying  promotional claims.

Other key points:   CLICK HERE for more Background
  • Protection from commercial pressure: The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (IC) and subsequent relevant Resolutions are minimum standards designed to ensure that all parents receive objective and truly independent information and are protected from misinformation and commercial promotion.   The Commission’s proposals contradict the International Code in key areas of marketing (and fail to include the Resolutions that clarify and update it.).
  • Child Rights: All EU MS have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC sets a direct obligation to companies to abide by the IC universally.   Nations that ratified the CRC are bound to it by international law and have clear obligations. The Draft Delegated Acts undermine this human rights international law and misinterpret Member States’ duties/obligations under it.
  • The EU has an obligation to promote high quality public health principles, standards and legislation in its relations with non-EU countries and a duty to establish an effective health protective framework;
  • The delegated regulation allows baby foods to provide 30 % of their energy from sugar (7.5g sugar/100kcal is equivalent to 30kcal from sugar in 100kcal energy) contradicting  all health advice from the World Health Organisation[1] (WHO) and from scientific committees in Member States who have recommended significant reductions in total sugar intake. The introduction of sugary foods – especially so early – is likely to contribute to the rising levels of childhood obesity and may affect the developing taste preferences of children. For infants and young children in particular, added sugar levels should be kept to a minimum[2]
  • Poor diet is now the biggest underlying cause of disease and death globally.[3]
  • Inequalities and  food safety: 120 million Europeans are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. 100 million Europeans lack access to piped water in their homes and 66 million lack access to adequate sanitation,
  • Environmental burden: The protection of breastfeeding  should be an essential part of water conservation measures:  800 litres of water are needed to make a 1 litre of milk and 4700 litres for 1 kilo of milk powder.
  • Member States to carry out their obligations under the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and Resolutions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child .  As you know these are embedded in many EU policy commitments, for example the EU Action Plan of Childhood Obesity, the Second International Nutrition Conference Political Declaration and Framework for Action etc.  Breastfeeding is one of the EUs CORE Health Indicators for Determinants of Health and the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms are  also enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • Promotional claims  CLICK HERE for a newsletter about soon to be published EU funded research  in 5  EU countries that shows how parents of young children are disproportionately  targeted.  The research found that 78% of baby foods (including formulas) carried a nutrition claim and 71% carried a health claim. The category of foods that comes anywhere close is breakfast cereals – 31% carry nutrition claims. ALL these products share banding with Infant Formula.   The Commission is currently considering the approval of 17 new highly promotional claims relating to ‘children’s development and health’ many of which relate to mandatory ingredients that EFSA has stated can be easily consumed as part of a balanced diet.”  (4)
  • The European Food Standards Authority (EFSA)   say that Follow-on Formula and Infant Formula should be compositionally the same (apart from overlapping max and min levels of iron) and that many of the optional ingredients (that have been and are used to promote these formulas) are unnecessary with no proven benefit.  EFSA warns that nutrients that are not used or stored have to be excreted and may put a burden on the infant’s metabolism.(4)
  • WHO has clarified its position that follow-on formulas are not only not necessary but are covered by the International Code.(5)
  • The Precautionary Principle called for by MEPs in 2013  is mentioned in the Delegated Acts only in relation to pesticides not all relevant provisions.   This is important because manufacturers  will still have  the freedom to add optional ingredients that have not been independently scrutiny and pre-authorised.
  • Babies who are not breastfed need infant formula throughout the whole first year of life and beyond.   There is no need for products that are almost identical to infant formula and were invented simply to avoid marketing restrictions.  Parents are bing seriously misled by this marketing.
CLICK HERE  for the European Commission’s proposals
CLICK  HERE  for Keith Taylor’s Resolution opposing the Delegated Act on Baby Foods.
CLICK  HERE for Keith Taylor’s Resolution opposing the Delegated Act on Foods for Special Medical Purposes.
CLICK  HERE  for Keith Taylor’s Resolution opposing the Delegated Act on Infant Formula

EUFOODPOLICYissue18Decemberpg4-5    EU Food Policy (see page 4 and 5)

CLICK HERE for advanced search facility for  ALL MEPs and political groups

(1) Keith Taylor’s  Motions opposing the European Commissions proposals for Delegated Acts on Processed cereal-based food and baby food (RE\1078840EN.doc);  Foods for Special Medical Purposes (RE\1078844EN.doc),  Infant formula and follow-on formula (RE\1078859EN.doc

(2) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs394/en/

(3) Changes in health in England, with analysis by English regions and areas of deprivation, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 Lancet 2015; 386: 2257–74 Published Online September 15, 2015 http://thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(15)00195-6.pdf

4 10891/2015 Annex to the COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) …/..authorising certain health claims made on foods and referring to children’s development and health   BFLG comments

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Keith Taylor’s ASKS related to marketing in the proposed Resolutions  (there are other asks about transparency and contaminants).

DRAFT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Infant formula and Follow-on formula 

International obligations  

2.      Considers that the delegated regulation does not contain sufficient provisions to prevent unfair competition with breastfeeding and therefore undermines the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes and subsequent WHA Resolutions and MS efforts to implement them effectively;

Advertising

3.      Considers that marketing of Follow-on Formula (FOF) should not be used as a Trojan horse that will mislead parents and caregivers and undermine breastfeeding both before and after six months;

4.      Considers that advertising on Infant Formula (IF) should be prohibited;

5.      Considers that advertising of FOF should be limited to ‘publications specialising in baby care and scientific publications’ and that Member States should be allowed to further restrict or prohibit advertising;

Health claims

8.      Considers that health and nutrition claims on both FOF and IF should be prohibited;

 

DRAFT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION ON  FSMPs:  

Advertising, promotion and labelling 

2.      Considers that advertising of FSMPs should not be permitted and that information for health professionals must be restricted to scientific and factual matters

3.  Considers that points a to i in Article 5(1) and the statements required by the International Code, should all be preceded by the words ‘IMPORTANT NOTICE’;

4.  Considers that the delegated regulation should specify that brand names that are de facto health claims should not be permitted;

DRAFT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION ON: Baby foods:

Obesity

2.      Considers that the delegated regulation does not contain sufficient measures to protect infants and young children against obesity and that the allowed maximum sugar level should be substantially lowered in line with WHO recommendations;

Labelling

5.      In consideration of global public health recommendations, including WHA Resolution 63.23, the WHA Global Strategy of Infant and Young Child feeding and the global impact of exports from the Union to third countries, the labelling and marketing of processed baby foods should make it clear that these products are not adequate for use by infants of less than 6 months of age and should not undermine the 6 month exclusive breastfeeding recommendation; Considers therefore that the labelling and marketing should be revised in line with WHA recommendations for foods for infants and young children;

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    2 thoughts on “IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE EU LEGISLATION

    • 13/01/2016 at 6:10 pm
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      I fully support Keith Taylor’s Motions.
      Elisabeth Kylberg
      Professor in Public Health
      Sweden

      Reply
    • 13/01/2016 at 6:54 pm
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      I fully support Keith Taylor’s Motions.
      Agneta Hörnell
      Professor in Food and NUtrition
      Sweden

      Reply

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