EU opposes misleading and deceptive health claims for infant formula and baby foods

INFACT Canada congratulates our partner group the UK-based Baby Milk Action and is pleased to have been able to support its work to inform and lobby the European Parliamentarians to oppose the misleading claims made by the infant formula/baby food industries.

From Baby Milk Action

European Parliamentarians oppose bogus baby food health claim

March 16, 2011 - Brussels

Members of the European Parliament have moved to block a baby food company from using a health claim on labels of follow-on formula.

The European Parliament’s committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) today voted to stop the claim that DHA, a long-chain fatty acid found in breastmilk, when added to follow-on formulas and baby foods improves babies’ vision. A Resolution will now go to the full Plenary in Strasbourg in April and if it is passed there, the claim will not be allowed in EU countries from 2012, or on exports from the EU. Baby Milk Action is lodging an official complaint about misinformation put out by the European Commission in trying to influence the votes of MEPs.

This is first time since the 2006 European Health and Nutrition Claims Regulations came into effect that MEPS have used their right to block a claim and the news was greeted with huge relief by thousands of health professionals and public health campaigners both in the EU and globally who have been fighting to protect parents rights to truly independent information about infant feeding.

Socialist MEP Glenis Willmott, Co-Chair of the Health Working Group, who led the MEPs veto said: “The European Parliament delegated the power to make decisions about infant feeding to the Commission and a specialist committee, which meets behind closed doors. However MEPs have an important role to play in scrutinising these decisions as this claim shows. 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.”

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Elisabeth Sterken
Director INFACT Canada