The Infant Nutrition Council (INC) welcomes the Commerce Commission’s re-authorisation of the INC’s Code of Practice for the Marketing of Infant Formula in New Zealand.

The Code restricts the advertising and marketing activities for infant formula by members of the INC for infants up to 12 months old.

It is an important part of New Zealand fulfilling the recommendations of the World Health Organisation’s International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (WHO Code), which aims to protect and promote breastfeeding and restrict the marketing of breast milk substitutes in ways that could undermine this aim.

The Code will continue to restrict members of INC from:

  • Advertising infant formula to the general public.
  • Distributing free samples to pregnant mothers or parents or caregivers of infants.
  • Offering inducements to health professionals to promote infant formula.
  • Distributing gifts or other articles to pregnant mothers or parents or caregivers of infants that may discourage breastfeeding.

INC chief executive Jonathan Chew says he is pleased the Commission has re-authorised the Code of Practice.

“Our members acknowledge that restrictions in the Code are likely to lessen competition, but they know restricting marketing in this manner supports the public health goal of the protection and promotion of breastfeeding, which is the optimal nutrition for babies.

Chew says the authorisation of the Code does not mean there will be any restrictions on the availability of infant formula to parents or caregivers who need to access it.

“Mothers and caregivers still need to make sure they get sufficient information from health practitioners and organisations such as Plunket about formula and feeding their babies in order to make informed decisions.

“INC believes breastfeeding is best, but that when needed, infant formula is the only suitable alternative.”

The Code of Practice was developed by INC in consultation with the Ministry of Health and applies to INC-member manufacturers and marketers of infant formula. INC is responsible for liaising with and educating the industry sector to ensure they adhere to the Code. All health workers and other interested parties are also encouraged to be aware of its content.

The Code can be accessed on the INC website