The Infant Nutrition Council’s Code of Practice for the Marketing of Infant Formula in New Zealand has been amended to take account of the Commerce Commission’s decision to extend the restriction on marketing to children up to 12 months of age.
The Commission’s decision was released on 8 November, and followed an application by the Infant Nutrition Council (INC) to extend the restriction on advertising and marketing that applied to products for children up to 6 months.
The INC believed that though the restrictions would be likely to lessen competition between infant formula makers, the improved health outcomes that would flow from it would outweigh the detriments arising from that lessening of competition. The Commission agreed.
As well as a restriction on advertising, the decision included a restriction on free samples to pregnant women, mothers of infants and the families and caregivers of infants.
In granting authorisation for the amended Code, the Commission revoked the 2015 Authorisation that covered the previous form of the Code. The INC Board has now amended the Code accordingly.
It has changed the definition of infant formula in the Code from “A product represented as a breast-milk substitute for infants and which satisfies the nutritional requirements of infants aged from birth up to four to six months (Food Standards Australia New Zealand – Infant Formula Standard 2.9.1)”, to “Any food described or sold as an alternative for human milk for the feeding of infants up to the age of twelve months and formulated in accordance with all relevant clauses of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, including Infant Formula Products Standard 2.9.1.”
INC Chief Executive Jan Carey says they had worked for some time on extending the restriction on advertising and marketing, and the amendment of the Code brings that work to an end.
“The Commission’s determination underlined exactly what the industry was trying to do – put the health of babies and mothers first.
“The Commission found that the public benefits of the arrangement outweighed the likely detriments from the reduction in competition, and we agree.
“Our stance is supported by many public health bodies, aligns with guidance from the World Health Assembly, and is consistent with the Ministry of Health's nutrition guidelines for infants.
“The industry proactively took this step because it’s the right thing to do to support the public health goals that protect and promote breastfeeding. Breast milk is the best nutrition for an infant, but where that is not always possible, infant formula is the only suitable substitute.”