Manufacturers call for more information on infant formula labels
Infant formula needs to adhere to strict regulations to ensure the safety of children, but restrictions on labelling has divided opinion in the industry.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) has been reviewing infant formula requirements in the Food Standards Code, a move that the Infant Nutrition Council (INC) supports. It stated that manufacturers want to provide more information on labels to allow mothers to make more informed decisions about which product to buy.
“Research shows that one in three mothers feel they receive insufficient information when they’re buying formula for the first time, while 40% say they’re not aware of the ingredients and nutrients in a product.
“Not all infant formula products are the same. Different manufacturers innovate with different new and improved ingredients, which can be added only after approval by food safety regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
“But the law as it stands won’t allow us to show this by putting that information on to the front of labels, and that means mothers can’t differentiate between products to find the most suitable product for their baby,” said INC Chief Executive Jan Carey.
However, this has been criticised by Dr Nina Berry from the University of Sydney’s School of Medicine as a method to drive up prices.
Berry’s research found the majority of infant formula products contained health and nutrition content claims which were interpreted by consumers as providing health benefits. She suggested companies were only providing formula-feeding mothers with part of the information.
Carey denied these claims, stating, “The implication that the infant formula industry is concerned more about price than the health and safety of infants is alarming and does not help mothers who just want more information on products.
“The infant formula industry is dedicated to providing safe and healthy options for mothers who cannot breastfeed their babies or who choose not to, and that includes making as much information as possible available on the label.”
A further consultation paper by FSANZ is likely to be released later this year.
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