STOP PRESS:  the motion was passed just now. Congratulations to the RCPCH

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to debate baby food funding

Annual General Meeting, 27th April, Liverpool 

Motion for debate: “In order for RCPCH as a professional body to avoid institutional conflicts of interest and thus maintain its reputation as an unbiased, independent educator and advocate for child health, the College should decline any commercial transactions or any other kind of funding or support from all companies that market products within the scope of the WHO Code on the marketing of breast milk substitutes

bmj.i2221.full    for BMJ

Baby Milk Action and its partners in the International Baby Food Action Network and the Baby Feeding Law Group are hoping that members of the RCPCH will support the Motion above at the AGM this week, and end RCPCH dependence on the sponsorship of baby food companies.

Patti Rundall, OBE, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action said, “The RCPCH has been a valued partner in the many-decade-long struggle to protect child health. Its contributions to discussions about the norms and standards adopted by the European Commission, European Parliament, Codex Alimentarius Commission and the World Health Assembly have made an enormous difference, not just to child health in the UK, but also globally. Its input has also helped improve the quality and safety of formulas that are needed for babies who are not breastfed. At fora where food standards are set such as Codex, the baby food industry invariably pushes the lowest scientific criteria – in order to get permission for unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients and additives. “

Increasingly public health bodies are recognising the need to look to independent, trustworthy information upon which to base public health policies. RCPCH and its members could lose their credibility if they do not take a strong stand formula company funding.   Nothing in the motion prevents individual paediatricians working with companies on research. The motion merely stresses the duty of the RCPCH’ to maintain its credibility and reputation as an educator and advocate for child health.

We hope that RCPCH members will recognise the urgency of this motion. Baby foods are now the fastest growing food sector with 2014 global sales of US$58 billion and predicted sales of US$ 70.6 billion by 2019.[1] Parents who use these products are also disproportionately targeted with misleading health and nutrition claims. [2]

Unlike tobacco, formulas are necessary for babies who are not breastfed. However the marketing tactics used by the baby food companies mirror those of the tobacco industry. They rely heavily on the manipulation of public opinion, appearing respectable; using front groups, funding science and infiltrating food safety systems – all with the purpose of weakening legislation – legislation that is essential for stopping marketing practices that violate children’s rights to health and improves product quality and safety.

Expert assessment shows that company information is not reliable, and certainly not confined the scientific and factual information required by the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions that the RCPCH endorses.   Baby Milk Action has won cases at the Advertising Standards Authority over misleading advertising, and much better objective information is available from independent sources.

Paediatricians and prestigious institutions that work on child health such as the RCPCH must recognise how accepting funding from such companies is a clear conflict of interest that not only violates World Health Assembly Resolutions [3] and creates opportunities for undue influence, but is an essential part of the corporate plan. The image transfer gained from prestigious bodies such as the RCPCH has huge financial and commercial value.


For more information contact;

Patti Rundall: 07786 523493


1 Spotlight on infant formula: coordinated global action needed, Lancet Breastfeeding Series.

[2] Prevalence of Nutrition and Health-Related Claims on Pre-Packaged Foods: A Five-Country Study in Europe Sophie Hieke 1, *, Nera Kuljanic 1 , Igor Pravst 2,3 , Krista Miklavec 2 , Asha Kaur 4 ,Kerry A. Brown 5 , Bernadette M. Egan 5 , Katja Pfeifer 6 , Azucena Gracia 7 and Mike Rayner 4Nutrients 2016, 8, 137; doi:10.3390/nu8030137

[3] WHA Resolution 49.15 1996 Preambular para: “Concerned that health institutions and ministries may be subject to subtle pressure to accept, inappropriately, financial or other support for professional training in infant and child health” urged Member States to ensure that “financial support for professionals working in infant and young child health does not create conflicts of interest.” WHA Resolution 58.32  2005 Urged Member States: “to ensure that financial support and other incentives for programmes and health professionals working in infant and young child health do not create conflicts of interest”.

other links:

Codex: Trade vs health – global meeting fails to safeguard infant and young child health Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses Bali, Indonesia 24-28th November 2014




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