The International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes is an "international public health recommendation to regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes." It was developed and voted on by the World Health Assembly in 1981, with the United States being the only "no" vote. Thirteen years later, the United States changed their "no" to a "yes" in the Innocenti Declaration. Here are some of the highlights:
Aim of the Code
To contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by the protection and promotion of breastfeeding, and by ensuring the proper use of breastmilk substitutes, when they are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution.
Scope of the Code
The Code applies to the marketing, and practices related thereto, of the following products: breastmilk substitutes, including infant formula; other milk products, foods and beverages, including bottle-fed complementary foods, when marketed or otherwise represented to be suitable, with or without modification, for use as a partial or total replacement of breastmilk; feeding bottles and teats.
Article 4. Information and Education
- Governments should have responsibility for the provision of objective and consistent information on infant and young child feeding to families and professionals
- Any informational material about formula should explain the social and financial implications of its use
- Informational material should explain the health hazards of inappropriate foods or feeding methods
- Informational material should not show any pictures or text that idealizes the use of breastmilk substitutes
Article 4.2 requires that the following be included in education materials:
- The benefits and superiority of breastfeeding
- Maternal nutrition, and the preparation for and maintenance of breastfeeding
- The negative effect on breastfeeding of introducing partial bottle feeding
- The difficulty of reversing the decision not to breastfeed
- Where needed, the proper use of infant formula, whether manufactured or home prepared.
Article 5. The General Public and Mothers
- There should be no advertising or promotion to the general public of products within the scope of the Code
- No samples may be given to mothers
- There should be no point-of-sale advertising
- There should be no gifts of articles or utensils given to pregnant women or mothers of infants and young children
Article 6. Health Care Systems
Health authorities of Member States should take appropriate measures to encourage and protect breastfeeding and promote the principles of this Code (discussed in Article 4.2). Also, there should be no promotion of infant formula and other products within or by a health care system.
Article 7. Health Workers
- Should encourage and protect breastfeeding
- Information from manufacturers must be scientific and factual
- There should be no financial or material inducements to promote products from manufacturers
- No samples from manufacturers should be given
- There must be disclosure of fellowships, grants, conference fees, etc. by manufacturers.
Article 8. Persons Employed by Manufacturers and Distributors
Sales of products within the scope of the Code should not be included in incentives and bonuses. Also, there should be no education of pregnant women or mothers of infants and small children.
Article 9. Labeling
- Should provide necessary information about the appropriate use of the product and not to discourage breastfeeding.
- Must include: "important notice"; a statement of the superiority of breastfeeding; use on advice of a health worker; instructions on appropriate preparation
- Should have no pictures of infants
- Should have a statement of the following points: ingredients; composition of product; storage conditions required; batch number and the date it is expiring
Article 10. Quality
Must be a high recognized standard and it must meet the standards recommended by the Codex Alimentarious Commission and the Codex Code of Hygienic Practice for Foods for Infants and Children
Article 11. Implementation and Monitoring
- Action should be taken by the Government to adhere to the Code....This means national legislation, regulations and other suitable measures
- There should be governmental collaboration with WHO and UNICEF
- Manufacturers and distributors should be responsible for monitoring of marketing practices
- Individuals or organizations (professional, non-governmental...) who are concerned about noncompliance should draw attention to activities which are incompatible with the principles and aim of the Code.
Please note that this code does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the About.com staff.