After 10 years of struggle, Codex puts child health before trade at last.

6-10th March, 2023,  Dusseldorf

IBFAN, WHO, UNICEF and partners breathed a sigh of relief today at the Codex Nutrition Committee in Dusseldorf.  After 10 years of tortured discussions in a Committee dominated by food corporations and powerful exporting countries, the main text of the revision of the 1987 Codex Standard for Follow-Up Formula was finalised and  WILL refer to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent WHA Resolutions. …. Click here for more on what happened


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The  meeting was broadcast live here.  We have cThe Agenda and background papers are HERE. 

IBFAN, alongside ENCA,  ILCA, HKI, WHO and UNICEF  are attending the Codex Nutrition Committee once again where the  Review of the Standard for follow-up formula (CXS 156-1987) is expected be finalised this week. 

The 2023 Lancet Series on Breastfeeding, highlighted baby food industry and powerful exporting states use weak Codex standards in their attempts to stop governments bringing in strong marketing controls, wrongly claiming that Codex standards are a ‘regulatory ceiling’ for trade purposes.  Such challenges have a chilling effect on governments.

IBFAN will be once again calling on Governments to use this opportunity to safeguard the most vulnerable members of society.

SUMMARY OF IBFAN’s CONCERNS:  There are still many unresolved issues on the standard including:   sodium levels,  sweetness; flavourings,  inadequate safeguards to prevent the Cross Promotion that misleads so many parent. Most importantly, a Preamble is needed to ensure that Member States are not challenged when adopting legislation in line with WHO recommendations to halt promotion of these products – ideally before they are placed on the market.

IBFAN COMMENTS on Structure, preamble and additives  ILCA Comments 


This Standard is divided into two sections. Section A refers to Follow-up Formula for Older Infants, and Section B deals with REVERSE ORDER: Drink for Young Children, or Product for Young Children, or alternatively Drink for Young Children with Added Nutrients, or Product for Young Children with Added Nutrients.

The application of this Standard should be consistent with national health and nutrition policies and relevant national/regional legislation and take into account the recommendations made in the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, DELETE: as per the national context], relevant World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and policies and World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions that were considered in the development of this Standard and DELETE may provide further guidance to countries Add:  in ending the inappropriate promotion of these products and misleading practice of cross-promotion.

ADD: Follow-up Formula and Drinks for Young Children are not necessary. Energy and nutrient dense family foods with continued breastfeeding for young children can provide the essential complementary feeding to meet the nutrient requirements for older infants and young children.

SWEETNESS:  At the last meeting in November 2021, New Zealand, Australia, the US and the baby food industry (ISDI) called for the deletion of this key sentence: “for products based on non milk protein, carbohydrate sources that have no contribution to sweet taste should be preferred and in no case sweeter than lactose.   Norway, Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, EU, Chile, Switzerland, WHO, NHF, IBFAN and ENCA all supported its retention. EU and Switzerland now have a new statement calling for extra safeguards: EU/CH CRD16

FLAVOURS: At the last meeting  flavourings were banned for follow-up formulas for older infants. Many countries, WHO, UNICEF and NGOs also strongly opposed for fruit extracts and vanilla flavourings for the drinks 12-36 months. The EU (representing 27 countries) saw no technological need for flavours and questioned the safety of fruit extracts as flavouring agents in that many contain additional compounds.  The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and the industry friendly European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) argued that a prohibition of flavours would put the baby drinks at a disadvantage to ‘less good’ products that don’t meet Codex standards. A compromise sentence was added: National or regional authorities may restrict or prohibit the use of the listed flavourings.


(2)  Russ K, Baker P, Byrd M, et al. What you don’t know about the Codex can hurt you: how trade policy trumps global health governance in infant and young child nutritionInternational Journal of Health Policy and Management 2021; 10(12): 983-97.  Baker et al. Globalization and Health (2021) 17:58. Advocacy at Work During the Codex Committee on Food Labelling Meeting

Agenda Item 6


Comments of Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, European Union, Iran, Iraq, Japan, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syrian Arab Republic, United States of America and European Network of Childbirth Associations (ENCA), International Food Additives Council (IFAC), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), International Special Dietary Food Industries (I

IBFAN comments on Additives

IBFAN comments in response to the requests in the circular letter CL 2022/80/OCS-NFSDU regarding the technological justification for the use of certain food additives in food complying with The Standard for Infant Formula and Formulas for Special Medical Purposes (CXS 72-1981).



  1. In the discussion on the adoption of the Guidelines for Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) at Step 8:
    •   Many Members intervened in support of final adoption and commended the leadership of the working group in completing the Guidelines.
    •   One Member and an Observer noted the level of carbohydrates, specifically sugar, exceeded WHO recommendations. This issue was discussed extensively at CCNFSDU including current constrains on product formulation and it was also highlighted that RUTF were meant for short term use.
    •   Observer organizations expressed the view that the level of magnesium was too low; stressed the need to guard against inappropriate promotion of the products; underlined the need to ensure the availability of potable water; expressed the view that the preamble should further address the need for appropriately designed programmes to support continued breastfeeding and re-lactation; and that the use of RUTF should not preclude the use of culturally appropriate home-based foods.Conclusion
  2. CAC45 adopted the Guidelines for Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) at Step 8 with the editorial amendments as proposed by WHO on the definition for Severe Acute Malnutrition and by EU in CX/CAC 22/45/4 Add. 1.
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