For extra useful  information relating to the UK visit First Steps Nutrition Trust and the Baby Feeding Law Group

The laws governing marketing of infant formula and follow-on formulas can be found here:

July 2023

Retained EU Law (REUL) Act published 

Following months of deliberation and considerations from the Houses of Lords and Commons respectively, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (REUL Bill) has been given Royal Assent and was passed into an Act, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 on 29 June 2023. One purpose of this Act is to revoke certain retained EU law through the sunsetting of legislation. All legislation to be “sunsetted” (revoked) is listed in Schedule 1 of the Act, but of note, none of the relevant legislation relating to the composition, labelling, and marketing of foods for infants and young children is included in this list. This means that all legislation relating to foods for infants and young children will be retained. Government departments will now create secondary legislation where necessary to effect changes and these will be consulted on in due course. 


March 2022:  Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) guidance on the UK requirements  stemming from the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/127

The Statutory Instruments that came into effect on 20th July 2016 in England and Wales made Improvement Notices legally binding. See our 2016 press release for details. Scotland’s Statutory Instrument also makes certain provisions legally binding, but does not provide for warnings through Statutory Instruments.

Remember that in addition to  UK legislation,  the most important rules and standards that govern baby food marketing are set by the World Health Assembly.  So if you are worried about any unethical marketing, do check it against the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes  and the 20  World Health Assembly  Resolutions and Decisions that have been passed since 1981.  Most importantly, since 1996, eight Resolutions have specifically called for Conflict of Interest safeguards.

ICDC Compilation Code and Resolutions. Updated 2022

Click here to find monitoring reports from around the world.

Click here to find 4 new reports published by WHO exposing the marketing by the $55 billion formula milk industry, including:

WHO Policy Brief and “model law” for the European Region covering breastmilk substitutes, baby foods and related products

WHO/UNICEF/IBFAN 2022 Code Status report .

Some briefings we’ve used to improve EU legislation.

Baby Milk Action IBFAN UK EU Chronology

2015 EU Briefing 2.11.15


2007 BFLG submission 16.10.07

EU Council Resolution on marketing of breast-milk substitutes in third countries by Community-based manufacturers. (Official Journal C 172 , 08/07/1992):  “Whereas the application of the International Code provides without doubt an excellent way to achieve this in these countries … 1. The Community will contribute to the application of appropriate marketing practices for breast-milk substitutes in third countries.2……the Commission will instruct its delegations in third countries to serve as contact points for the competent authorities. Any complaints or criticisms with respect to the marketing practices of a manufacturer based in the Community could be notified to them.3. The Commission will be ready to examine such cases and to assist in the search for a satisfactory solution for all parties concerned.”  EU Export Directive (required labels in the appropriate language)

Line by Line 28.9.07

Opening pages of Briefing on Generic labelling

Briefing on the UK Law 2012

10 Reasons to stop this DHA claim

Foods for Special Medical Purposes


FSMP  BFLG Briefing

Commission Notice on the classification of Food for Special Medical Purposes (FSMP) (2017/C 401/01) 

EU Farm to Fork Strategy


Governments must control their rogue companies 

EU Legislation on Export 1992

EU Export Directive Council Directive 92/52/EEC of 18 June 1992 on infant formulae and follow-on formulae intended for export to third countries

Council Resolution of 18 June 1992 on the marketing of breast-milk substitutes in third countries by Community- based manufacturers Official Journal C 172 , 08/07/1992




4.4 National authorities should be aware of their obligations under the International Health Regulations (2005) with regard to food safety events, including notification, reporting or verification of events to the World Health Organisation (WHO). They should also make sure that the international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes and relevant resolutions of the World Health Assembly (WHA) setting forth principles for the protection and promotion of breastfeeding be observed.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

CRC Discussion Day, September 2004 Early childhood development: “Starting sound practices
early, Guaranteeing the rights to survival and development of young children, including the rights to health, nutrition
and education.”

2008 CRC.C.GBR.Q.4

IBFAN CRC 58- 2011 Syriav2

Human Rights

Rights of the Child in Switzerland



Spot it - Report itBaby Milk Action has passed the coordination of Baby Feeding Law Group (BFLG) to First Steps Nutrition Trust so please the FSNT Working within the WHO Code section for the latest information.

On February 22nd 2020,  compositional, labelling and marketing regulations for most infant formula, follow on formula and infant milks marketed as foods for special medical purposes on the UK market came into force. Products meeting the new composition and labelling regulations should all now be on the production line, however not every product in shops will be in line with new regulations.
March 2022:  Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) guidance on the requirements of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/127 for infant formula and follow-on formula has been updated to reflect that from 22 February 2022, infant and follow-on formula made from protein hydrolysates is now required to follow the provisions set out in the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/127.   This guidance is available on  The guidance document has been developed by DHSC and specifically refers to England, although the principles are similar throughout Great Britain (Scotland and Wales).
The current approach to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (NIP) means that EU legislation relating to nutrition, as detailed in Annex 2 of the NIP, continues to be directly applicable in Northern Ireland. Therefore manufactures of infant and/or follow-on formula which are made from protein hydrolysates for use in the EU or Northern Ireland must continue to follow the requirements of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/127


Monitoring the UK Law

Together with the UK World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) we have a team of volunteers, who monitor what is happening in the United Kingdom. We are grateful to Caroline Harrower who coordinated this project until March 2022.   We welcome reports of violations to Baby Milk Action.

Below are presentations and reports about how baby food companies violate UK marketing rules and international standards in previous years:

2019 – report of UK Social media: 2019 UK Social media

2017 monitoring report Look What They’re Doing  2017.

UK Monitoring 2016 report is included in our Update 47 newsletter.

BFLG monitoring reports for past

Click Here for a Press release about the UK Improvement Notices

The Statutory Instruments that came into effect on 20th July 2016 in England and Wales made Improvement Notices legally binding. See our press release for details. Scotland’s Statutory Instrument also makes certain provisions legally binding, but does not provide for warnings through Statutory Instruments.

See our guide to the UK formula marketing rules including the Department of Health Guidance Notes 2007

Spot it – Report it

These handy cards available in our Monitoring Kit give an overview of the marketing rules, as below.

Carry the card with you or bookmark this page, then take a picture and email us anything that breaks the rules.

Archive:  Previous UK formula marketing rules

Under the UK Law – the  Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations (2007) companies must not:

  • advertise infant formula to the public or make the brand or ingredients the main focus in follow-on formula advertising to the public (RG 21/GN 48).
  • promote infant formula at point-of-sale by special displays, shelf talkers or discounts etc (follow-on formula products and promotion should not be placed by infant formula). (RG 20/GN53).
  • promote infant formula in mailshots or emails to the public, even when the recipient has agreed to receive communications (ASA ruling A12-197524).
  • put health and nutrition claims on labels (unless on a small list of permitted claims) or use other idealising text or images on infant formula (such as hearts, shields, animals) (RG 17/GN 32).
  • pay for television programmes to show their infant formula or follow-on formula products.
  • target health workers with gifts or idealising product information (RG 21) (be wary of company events, sponsorship and reps wanting to meet).
  • provide information materials for use in health facilities without prior written approval from the Secretary of State for Health (RG 24/GN 74-79).

Monitoring KitSee the indicated paragraphs of the RG: Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations (2007) and GN: Guidance Notes for the Regulations. (Follow the links from the BFLG website).

Companies should also comply with the stronger UN minimum standards.

The above information is included on our pocket-sized ‘spot it – report it’ cards, with advice on how to report a violation.

Four cards (one of them laminated) are included in our Monitoring Kit with other useful resources explaining the regulations.


Legislation relating to Brexit:

The explanatory memorandum for this legislation states that its purpose is to “remedy deficiencies in UK legislation relating to nutrition, arising from the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (EU) in the event that the UK leaves without a deal having been agreed”.

EXITING THE EUROPEAN UNION FOOD The Nutrition (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019