The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitues was adopted by the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization in 1981 to promote breastfeeding and restrict the marketing of breast-milk substitutes, such as infant formula, to ensure that mothers are not discouraged from breastfeeding and that substitutes are used safely if needed.
Most countries have adopted all or some of the code as law. There are SIX countries that have taken NO ACTION; Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Kazakhstan and The United States.
In The United States, infant formula is heavily marketed, advertised, subsidized by the government and handed out for free in the form of samples or from the hospital.
Only 13.8% of babies are exclusively breastfed until the AAP's reccomended 6 months and over a quarter of all newborns are given formula in the first two days of life. This, as well as many other controllable factors, such as birthing and hospital practices, interrupt the breastfeeding process.
The United States has the lowest breastfeeding initiation rate of all industrialized nations.
The aggressive marketing and advertisment of formula and the bombardment of free samples and goverment subsidies encourage women to feed their babies infant formala instead of breast milk. The amount of mothers on WIC who are breastfeeding is substantially low compared to mothers not using WIC. Futhermore, it is estimated that over half of the infant formula is provided through the WIC program. This has been extremely counterproductive to the WHO and AAP recommendations as well as the U.S. Government's Healthy People 2010 goal of increasing rates among new mothers to 75%.
Formula manufacturers spend millions of dollars on advertising campaigns that portray formula as a choice that is just as good as breast milk, when in reality formula could never compare to breastfeeding. Formula is a static product that does not and cannot change in composition from one feeding to the next as breast milk does. Formula ads portray beautiful women bottle-feeding their bright-eyed, giggly babies, and as a result America has become desensitized to the health risks involved and the realization that formula feeding is a completely unnatural way to nourish infants. Formula also results in what is commonly believed to be a normal occurance in babies, spit-up. Spit-up is rare in breastfed babies, if it happens at all. This is a clear indicator of how far the marketing and advertisment of formula has gone. Breastfeeding has been around for millennia but infant formula has only been available commercially for about 60 years.
All marketing and advertisment of formula in the US violates the World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. It is time to end the greatest marketing scam of our time. Corporations should not be influencing what we feed out babies!
The Center for Disease Control's publication on breastfeeding interventions can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/breastfeeding_interventions.pdf
The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes is found here: http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/code_english.pdf
The two most recent publications on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk by the American Academy of Pediatrics can be found here:
The articles in the code are as follows:
Article 1. Aim of the Code
The aim of this Code is to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by the protection and promotion of breast-feeding, and by ensuring the proper use of breast-milk substitutes, when these are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution.
Article 2. Scope of the Code
The Code applies to the marketing, and practices related thereto, of the following products: breast-milk substitutes, including infant formula; other milk products, foods and beverages, including bottlefed complementary foods, when marketed or otherwise represented to be suitable, with or without modification, for use as a partial or total replacement of breast milk; feeding bottles and teasts. It also applies to their quality and availability, and to information concerning their use.
Article 3. Definitions
For the purposes of this Code:
"Breast-milk substitute" means any food being marketed or otherwise presented as a partial or total replacement for breast milk, whether or not suitable for that purpose.
"Complementary food" means any food whether manufactured or locally prepared, suitable as a complement to breast milk or to infant formula, when either become insufficient to satisfy the nutritional requirements of the infant. Such food is also commonly called "weaning food" or breast-milk supplement".
"Container" means any form of packaging of products for sale as a normal retail unit, including wrappers.
"Distributor" means a person, corporation or any other entity in the public or private sector engaged in the business (whether directly or indirectly) of marketing at the wholesale or retail level a product within the scope of this Code. A "primary distributor" is a manufacturer's sales agent, representative, national distributor or broker.
"Health care system" means governmental, nongovernmental or private institutions or organizations engaged, directly or indirectly, in health care for mothers, infants and pregnant women; and nurseries or child-care institutions. It also includes health workers in private practice. For the purposes of this Code, the health care system does not include pharmacies or other established sales outlets.
"Health worker" means a person working in a component of such a health care system, whether professional or non-professional, including voluntary unpaid workers.
"Infant formula" means a breast-milk substitute formulated industrially in accordance with applicable Codex Alimentarius standards, to satisfy the normal nutritional requirements of infants up to between four and six months of age, and adapted to their physiological characteristics. Infant formula may also be prepared at home, in which case it is described as "home-prepared".
"Label" means any tag, brand, marks, pictorial or other descriptive matter, written, printed, stencilled, marked, embossed or impressed on, or attached to, a container (see above) of any products within the scope of this Code.
"Manufacturer" means a corporation of other entity in the public or private sector engaged in the business or function (whether directly or through an agent or through an entity controlled by or under contract with it) of manufacturing a product within the scope of this Code.
"Marketing" means product promotion, distribution, selling, advertising, product public relations, and information services.
"Marketing personnel" means any persons whose functions involve the marketing of a product or products coming within the scope of this Code.
"Samples" means single or small quantities of a product provided without cost.
"Supplies" means quantities of a product provided for use over an extended period, free or at a low price, for social purposes, including those provided to families in need.
Article 4. Information and education
4.1 Governments should have the responsibility to ensure that objective and consistent information is provided on infant and young child feeding for use by families and those involved in the field of infant and young child nutrition. This responsibility should cover either the planning, provision, design and dissemination of information, or their control.
4.2 Informational and educational materials, whether written, audio, or visual, dealing with the feeding of infants and intended to reach pregnant women and mothers of infants and young children, should include clear information on all the following points: (a) the benefits and superiority of breast-feeding; (b) maternal nutrition, and the preparation for and maintenance of breast-feeding; (c) the negative effect on breast-feeding of introducing partial bottle-feeding; (d) the difficulty of reversing the decision not to breast-feed; and (e) where needed, the proper use of infant formula, whether manufactured industrially or home-prepared. When such materials contain information about the use of infant formula, they should include the social and financial implications of its use; the health hazards of inappropriate foods or feeding methods; and, in particular, the health hazards of unnecessary or improper use of infant formula and other breast-milk substitutes. Such materials should not use any pictures or text which may idealize the use of breast-milk substitutes.
4.3 Donations of informational or educational equipment or materials by manufacturers or distributors should be made only at the request and with the written approval of the appropriate government authority or within guidelines given by governments for this purpose. Such equipment or materials may bear the donating company's name or logo, but should not refer to a proprietary product that is within the scope of this Code, and should be distributed only through the health care system.
Article 5. The general public and mothers
5.1 There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public of products within the scope of this Code.
5.2 Manufacturers and distributors should not provide, directly or indirectly, to pregnant women, mothers or members of their families, samples of products within the scope of this Code.
5.3 In conformity with paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article, there should be no point-of-sale advertising, giving of samples, or any other promotion device to induce sales directly to the consumer at the retail level, such as special displays, discount coupons, premiums, special sales, loss-leaders and tie-in sales, for products within the scope of this Code. This provision should not restrict the establishment of pricing policies and practices intended to provide products at lower prices on a long-term basis.
5.4 Manufacturers and distributors should not distribute to pregnant women or mothers or infants and young children any gifts of articles or utensils which may promote the use of breast-milk substitutes or bottle-feeding.
5.5 Marketing personnel, in their business capacity, should not seek direct or indirect contact of any kind with pregnant women or with mothers of infants and young children.
Article 6. Health care systems
6.1 The health authorities in Member States should take appropriate measures to encourage and protect breast-feeding and promote the principles of this Code, and should give appropriate information and advice to health workers in regard to their responsibilities, including the information specified in Article 4.2.
6.2 No facility of a health care system should be used for the purpose of promoting infant formula or other products within the scope of this Code. This Code does not, however, preclude the dissemination of information to health professionals as provided in Article 7.2.
6.3 Facilities of health care systems should not be used for the display of products within the scope of this Code, for placards or posters concerning such products, or for the distribution of material provided by a manufacturer or distributor other than that specific it Article 4.3.
6.4 The use by the health care system of "professional service representatives", "mothercraft nurses" or similar personnel, provided or paid for by manufacturers or distributors, should not be permitted.
6.5 Feeding with infant formula, whether manufactured or home-prepared, should be demonstrated only by health workers, or other community workers if necessary; and only to the mothers or family members who need to use it; and the information given should include a clear explanation of the hazards of improper use.
6.6 Donations or low-price sales to institutions or organizations of supplies of infant formula or other products within the scope of this Code, whether for use in the institutions or for distribution outside them, may be made. Such supplies should only be used or distributed for infants who have to be fed on breast-milk substitutes. If these supplies are distributed for use outside the institutions, this should be done only by the institutions or organizations concerned. Such donations or low-price sales should not be used by manufacturers or distributors as a sales inducement.
6.7 Where donated supplies of infant formula or other products within the scope of this Code are distributed outside an institution, the institution or organization should take steps to ensure that supplies can be continued as long as the infants concerned need them. Donors, as well as institutions or organizations concerned, should bear in mind this responsibility.
6.8 Equipment and materials, in addition to those referred to in Article 4.3, donated to a health care system may bear a company's name or logo, but should not refer to any proprietary product within the scope of this Code.
Article 7. Health workers
7.1 Health workers should encourage and protect breast-feeding; and those who are concerned in particular with maternal and infant nutrition should make themselves familiar with their responsibilities under this Code, including the information specified in Article 4.2.
7.2 Information provided by manufacturers and distributors to health professionals regarding products within the scope of this Code should be restricted to scientific and factual matters, and such information should not imply or create a belief that bottlefeeding is equivalent or superior to breast-feeding. It should also include the information specified in Article 4.2.
7.3. No financial or material inducements to promote products within the scope of this Code should be offered by manufacturers or distributors to health workers or members of their families, nor should these be accepted by health workers or members of their families.
7.4 Samples of infant formula or other products within the scope of this Code, or of equipment or utensils for their preparation or use, should not be provided to health workers except when necessary for the purpose of professional evaluation or research at the institutional level. Health workers should not give samples of infant formula to pregnant women, mothers of infants and young children, or members of their families.
7.5 Manufacturers and distributors of products within the scope of this Code should disclose to the institution to which a recipient health worker is affiliated any contribution made to him or on his behalf for fellowships, study tours, research grants, attendance at professional conferences, or the like. Similar disclosures should be made by the recipient.
Article 8. Persons employed by manufacturers and distributors
8.1 In systems of sales incentives for marketing personnel, the volume of sales of products within the scope of this Code should not be included in the calculation of bonuses, nor should quotas be set specifically for sales of these products. This should not be understood to prevent the payment of bonuses based on the overall sales by a company of other products marketed by it.
8.2 Personnel employed in marketing products within the scope of this Code should not, as part of their job responsibilities, perform educational functions in relation to pregnant women or mothers of infants and young children. This should not be understood as preventing such personnel from being used for other functions by the health care system at the request and with the written approval of the appropriate authority of the government concerned.
Article 9. Labelling
9.1 Labels should be designed to provide the necessary information about the appropriate use of the product, and so as not to discourage breast-feeding.
9.2 Manufacturers and distributors of infant formula should ensure that each container as a clear, conspicuous, and easily readable and understandable message printed on it, or on a label which cannot readily become separated from it, in an appropriate language, which includes all the following points: (a) the words "Important Notice" or their equivalent; (b) a statement of the superiority of breastfeeding; (c) a statement that the product should be used only on the advice of a health worker as to the need for its use and the proper method of use; (d) instructions for appropriate preparation, and a warning against the health hazards of inappropriate preparation. Neither the container nor the label should have pictures of infants, nor should they have other pictures or text which may idealize the use of infant formula. They may, however, have graphics for easy identification of the product as a breastmilk substitute and for illustrating methods of preparation. The terms "humanized", "materialized" or similar terms should not be used. Inserts giving additional information about the product and its proper use, subject to the above conditions, maybe included in the package or retail unit. When labels give instructions for modifying a product into infant formula, the above should apply.
9.3 Food products within the scope of this Code, marketed for infant feeding, which do not meet all the requirements of an infant formula, but which can be modified to do so, should carry on the label a warning that the unmodified product should not be the sole source of nourishment of an infant. Since sweetened condensed milk is not suitable for infant feeding, nor for use as a main ingredient of infant formula, its label should not contain purported instructions on how to modify it for that purpose.
9.4 The label of food products within the scope of this Code should also state all the following points: (a) the ingredients used; (b) the composition/analysis of the product; (c) the storage conditions required; and (d) the batch number and the date before which the product is to be consumed, taking into account the climatic and storage conditions of the country concerned.
Article 10. Quality
10.1 The quality of products is an essential element for the protection of the health of infants and therefore should be of a high recognized standard.
10.2 Food products within the scope of this Code should, when sold or otherwise distributed, meet applicable standards recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and also the Codex Code of Hygienic Practice for Foods for Infants and Children.
Article 11. Implementation and monitoring
11.1 Governments should take action to give effect to the principles and aim of this Code, as appropriate to their social and legislative framework, including the adoption of national legislation, regulations or other suitable measures. For this purpose, governments should seek, when necessary, the cooperation of WHO, UNICEF and other agencies of the United Nations system. National policies and measures, including laws and regulations, which are adopted to give effect to the principles and aim of this Code should be publicly stated, and should apply on the same basis to all those involved in the manufacture and marketing of products within the scope of this Code.
11.2 Monitoring the application of this Code lies with governments acting individually, and collectively through the World Health Organization as provided in paragraphs 6 and 7 of this Article. The manufacturers and distributors of products within the scope of this Code, and appropriate nongovernmental organizations, professional groups, and consumer organizations should collaborate with governments to this end.
11.3 Independently of any other measures taken for implementation of this Code, manufacturers and distributors of products within the scope of this Code should regard themselves as responsible for monitoring their marketing practices according to the principles and aim of this Code, and for taking steps to ensure that their conduct at every level conforms to them.
11.4 Nongovernmental organizations, professional groups, institutions and individuals concerned should have the responsibility of drawing the attention of manufacturers or distributors to activities which are incompatible with the principles and aim of this Code, so that appropriate action can be taken. The appropriate governmental authority should also be informed.
11.5 Manufacturers and primary distributors of products within the scope of this Code should apprise each member of their marketing personnel of the Code and of their responsibilities under it.
11.6 In accordance with Article 62 of the Constitution of the World Health Organization, Member States shall communicate annually to the Director-General information on action taken to give effect to the principles and aim of this Code.
11.7 The Director-General shall report in even years to the World Health Assembly on the status of implementation of the Code; and shall, on request, provide technical support to Member States preparing national legislation or regulations, or taking other appropriate measures in implementation and furtherance of the principles and aim of this Code.