IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY TO PROTECT CHILD HEALTH
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.
- 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 (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
- Poor diet is now the biggest underlying cause of disease and death globally.
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.
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
(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
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
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;
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;
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:
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;
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;
2 thoughts on “IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE EU LEGISLATION”
I fully support Keith Taylor’s Motions.
Professor in Public Health
I fully support Keith Taylor’s Motions.
Professor in Food and NUtrition