A cross-party group of MPs at Westminster will today [Wednesday 16th November] start the legislative process to introduce a new law, which will tighten up the marketing of formula milks and other infant feeding products.
Alison Thewliss MP, who is chair of the APPG on Infant Feeding and Inequalities and is leading with the proposal, will today seek approval from the House of Commons to go ahead and draft the bill, making way for it to be given a second reading in Parliament.
The legislative proposal has strong cross-party backing, including from influential Conservative MP and chair of the Commons Health Select Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston.
Speaking in advance of today’s proceedings in the Commons, Alison Thewliss MP said:
“I understand there is a genuine and sincere requirement for infant formula milk for mothers who can’t or indeed don’t wish to breastfeed, and any number of circumstances which lead parents and carers to choose formula. I come to this debate with absolutely no judgement or attempt to tell other parents how to feed their children.
“I believe it is vitally important that parents get accurate information on the contents of formula milk, and the best way to prepare it safely. At present there is a worrying lack of independent scrutiny of infant and young child formula, as well as growing frustration about the industry marketing tricks and misleading claims being pushed on parents and health professionals alike.
“Misinformation on health policy never ends well and I believe this requires an urgent change in the law, to seriously tighten up the behaviour of some companies.
“Currently, a loophole allows for misleading and scientifically questionable claims to be printed in reputable and highly respected medical and nursing journals. This is an untenable position and the legislation I am proposing will tackle this issue head on.
“My bill would also mean that the UK fully implements the international Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, which has been called for in numerous reports.
“I am hopeful that the House of Commons approves permission to formally introduce the bill today and let it have a second reading in Parliament.”