Consultation on the Australian voluntary self-regulatory agreement (MAIF)

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)  is consulting on an application by the Infant Nutrition Council (INC) for  re-authorisation for current and future manufacturers in, and importers into, Australia of infant formula to make and give effect to the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement (MAIF Agreement). The MAIF Agreement is a voluntary self-regulatory code of conduct which governs the marketing of infant formula for infants up to 12 months. It constitutes Australia’s official application of the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.

Summary of the draft determination

The ACCC proposes to re-authorise the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement (MAIF Agreement) and associated guidelines, but is considering whether a condition may be required. The MAIF Agreement, amongst other things, prohibits the advertising and promotion of infant formula by manufacturers and importers directly to the public. The ACCC accepts that restrictions on the promotion of breast milk substitutes are likely to result in public benefits by protecting breastfeeding rates, with significant consequential health benefits. Since 1992, the MAIF Agreement has been the primary means by which the Australian Government has chosen to give effect to the World Health Organisation’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, to which Australia was an early signatory. The ACCC proposes to grant re-authorisation for five years.

However, the ACCC considers that a number of factors are likely to undermine the benefits of the MAIF Agreement, the most significant of these being linked to the potential effects of marketing of toddler milk by infant formula companies as part of a range of products which includes infant formula. There is now further information, including a series of statements from the WHO, which indicates that there is consumer confusion between infant formula and toddler milk products, such that marketing toddler milk has the same effect as marketing infant formula. To address this issue the ACCC is considering whether to grant authorisation subject to a condition extending the restrictions on advertising and promotion of infant formula to include all breast milk substitutes as defined by the World Health Organisation (which includes toddler milk products sold by infant formula companies). The ACCC invites submissions in relation to this draft determination before making its final decision, in particular to provide any further available evidence or information which indicates the extent to which toddler milk marketing has the same effect as marketing infant formula, therefore reducing rates of breastfeeding.

Baby Milk Action

Breastfeeding Advocacy Australia




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