Wednesday 16 March 2011

The European Parliament stops false claims of baby food industry on infant formula benefits

To learn more on the background of the issue read Baby Milk Action website.

The follwoing is a press release from the Socialist group of the European Parliament:

Euro MPs today criticised a health claim about follow-on formula milk. The European Parliament's all-party environment and public health committee backed critics who denounced the claim as "misleading" in a vote on a draft resolution by British Labour MEP Glenis Willmott.
Baby milk manufacturer Mead Johnson claims one of its ingredients, the fatty acid DHA, improves children's eyesight.
But the author of the draft parliamentary resolution on the issue, Ms Willmott, said: "DHA is naturally found in breast milk, and it helps the development of children's eyes. The synthesised DHA added to formula milk is different.
"The European Commission has authorised this health claim, but independent studies say there is no proven link between artificially added DHA and eyesight, and some studies have found possible negative effects of DHA supplementation.
"As the scientific evidence is still inconclusive, we cannot allow parents to be misled. Babies' health is too important to be left in the hands of a multinational company's marketing department.
"If an ingredient is genuinely found to be beneficial and risk free then it should be obligatory in all formula milk, and not be used as a marketing ploy by a specific brand."

Also read this press release from the European Parliament "DHA in baby food: European Committee oposes health claim":

Plans to allow baby food makers to claim that adding the natural fatty acid DHA to baby food "contributes to the normal visual development of infants up to 12 months of age" were rejected by the Environment Committee in a close vote on Wednesday. MEPs believe more research is needed on the effects of DHA supplements. To stop the health claim being permitted, this vote needs to be confirmed by Parliament as a whole. A plenary vote is scheduled for April. 

Sunday 13 March 2011

"Formula for disaster" - a documentary on the Philippines (2007)

This documentary by UNICEF produced in 2007, shows the difficulties of infant feeding in poor areas of the Philippines. Even if it was produced a few years back, it is a powerful documentary which reveals the contradiction of a reality where poor parents spend a significant amount of their salary to buy infant formula for their infants thinking that they are doing what's best for their children. They come to believe so because of what they are told by health care professionals - which are sponsored and materially supported by industry - or by the television advertisement. What these parents ignore is the very high risk to which they are exposing their infants by feeding them artificial milk, in a context with no clean water or proper hygenic conditions.

The documentary can be viewed in the link below: