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Guidance Published on Stricter Rules for Advertising and Marketing Infant Formula

Thursday, 9 April 2020

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the specialised nutrition member companies of Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) have developed a new guidance document to provide guidance to the infant formula industry on compliance with food law governing commercial communications to health professionals in relation to infant formula products in Ireland.  The FSAI has also developed an assessment tool which allows industry to assess their compliance with current food law in this area.

New EU food law came into effect on 22nd February 2020 further restricts advertising and marketing of infant formula (formula products suitable for infants age 0-12months). All written, electronic and verbal communication to consumers and health professionals on infant formula must comply with the new laws. The rules have been tightened in the interest of promoting and protecting breastfeeding.

The restrictions involve discontinuing the use of most nutrition and health claims on infant formula. The impact will be notable in that product labels will be clearer. Statements claiming benefits related to individual nutrients are also not allowed*. For example, infant formula composition cannot be linked to breast milk, immune or gut health benefits (in either the presentation, labelling or advertising). However, if there is some new scientific development, this science can be communicated to health professionals.

The new rules also extend restrictions on the use of claims and pictures of infants in the advertising and marketing of infant formula that aim to help manage feeding problems like reflux. In the past, the legislation was less strict for this type of product. Claims and pictures of infants cannot be used now in advertising and marketing most infant formula products to consumers and health professionals, so the restrictions are tighter than before.

*Some limited exceptions apply to a small number of products until February 2021. In addition, statements on Docosahexanoic Acid(DHA) and lactose are still permitted on all infant formula.

Guidance for Compliance with Food Law When Communicating with Health Professionals about Infant Formula Products

Assessment Tool