May newsletter 2019

Welcome to the May newsletter


This month we have several updated reports and launch a further review of adverts for health professionals in a 2019 update to the ‘Scientific and Factual?’ resource. We also highlight the new Baby Feeding Law Group website and a report that they have produced asking for three infant milks currently sold over the counter, but which require use under medical supervision, to be removed from the shelves. We will be moving some of our work to the Baby Feeding Law Group site, so the publication ‘Websites and organisations funded by the breastmilk substitute industry’ will be rebranded to be a BFLG publication and will appear on that website soon.

We also have some good news to end the newsletter with – so do keep reading!


Updated reports this month

Last month we updated the ‘Infant Milks in the UK’ report and the report ‘Costs of infant milks marketed in the UK’ to include 5 new Nestle products, and we have now updated:

Infant formula -
An overview


Infant milks:

A simple guide to infant formula, follow-on formula and other infant milks

We have made some small updates to the ‘Specialised Infant Milks in the UK’ report this year (without changing the date on the cover – we only do this when we have done a full review of all products) and will be updating this resource over the coming months.

Eating well: the first year

A guide to introducing solids and eating well up to baby’s first birthday


Baby Feeding Law Group UK


Baby Feeding law Group launched its new website this month which can be accessed at www.bflg-uk.org.

Baby Feeding Law Group is an alliance of 23 organisations which aims to protect infant feeding in the UK through advocating for better regulation on product composition, safety and marketing, for the WHO Code to be brought into law and to challenge conflict of interest. The aim is to protect both breastfed and formula fed infants and their families, believing that everyone deserves independent accurate information about products and that babies are too important to be at the mercy of marketing messages. First Steps Nutrition Trust is acting as the secretariat for BFLG during 2019.

This week the BFLG are launching a new report:

Comfort milks, lactose-free infant milks and anti-reflux milks

Why these products should be removed from shop, supermarket and pharmacy shelves

Despite EU regulations clearly stating that these products should only be used under medical supervision, these products are freely available for families to buy without advice and support. The report highlights why we believe families need better protection. Alison Thewliss MP has written to Jackie Doyle-Price (the current Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention who has infant feeding within her remit) to ask for a meeting with BFLG members to discuss this further. For more information see the BFLG website.



“Scientific and factual?”

A further review of breastmilk substitute advertising to healthcare professionals


This resource focuses on advertisements for specialist milks, and it is important to highlight that all breastmilk substitutes are covered by the WHO Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. Some people have been told that specialist milks are ‘exempt’ but the Code clearly states that it covers all breastmilk substitutes which includes ‘all milks that are specifically marketed for feeding infants and young children up to the age of 3 years’.

We hope this report will be useful in encouraging journals, proprietors of journals, editors and those professional associations that still accept advertising from the breastmilk substitute industry to reflect on whether allowing these advertisements are helpful to their readers or members.This new report considers 9 further adverts for breastmilk substitutes that appeared in the healthcare professional literature in 2018/2019. As with the previous report in 2016 we highlight the claims made and the evidence given to support these. We believe that in many cases little robust evidence is given to support claims, and that many adverts are not ‘Scientific and Factual’ as they are required to be by law.

Statement on the EFSA Consultation on the appropriate age for introduction of complimentary feeding into an infant’s diet


EFSA produced a scientific opinion on the appropriate age of complementary feeding which went out to public consultation in May (closing May 29th). Along with many other organisations we submitted comments to the consultation but also produced a statement outlining some of our concerns with the question asked, the methodology and the conclusion. You can find our statement here.


In case you missed it:


Nestle have launched three new products under the  SMA Advanced brand which contain artificial ‘human milk oligosaccharides’. These are of course not sourced from human milk but are made enzymatically to be structurally identical to two oligosaccharides that have been determined in human milk. On the Nestle website, and in a clinical evidence summary distributed by the company, there are a number of suggested benefits to infant health from the addition of these components to infant formula. We have looked at the evidence provided for the suggested benefits and you can find our statement on this here.


Some good news

We are pleased to report that at their annual conference in May the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health voted to adopt the World Health Assembly resolution 69.9 into their interpretation of the WHO Code. The college announced earlier this year that it would no longer take funding from the breastmilk substitute industry which is very much welcomed.

The British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM) have also decided to no longer have any breastmilk substitute stands at their conference this September, and this follows the same decision made for the REaSoN conference being held this July.

We hope that more and more conferences and professional associations will take the decision to avoid supporting the marketing of products by companies that sell food for infants and young children. If health professionals want information about breastmilk substitutes they can of course ask companies specific questions, but it is important they also look more widely than the marketing literature before they make decisions on which product to use.