Baby Milk Action welcomes Product Placement ban on junk foods and baby milks

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Press release 9 February 2010

Baby Milk Action is relieved that  product placement of  junk foods,  infant formula and follow-on formula will not be permitted on UK made TV programmes, but is disappointed that baby feeding equipment, such as bottles and teats and other products could be allowed.   

The written statement by Ben Bradshaw,  the Culture Minister (1)  lists the products (which are in addition to tobacco and  prescription medicines) that will not be allowed:

  • alcoholic drinks;
  • foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar;
  • gambling;
  • smoking accessories;
  • over-the-counter medicines; and
  • infant formula and follow-on formula.

Baby Milk Action is the UK member of the global network, the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and the secretariat of the UK Baby Feeding Law Group a coalition of 23 leading health professional and mother-support organisations (2).  These and many other groups have been calling for the UK - which has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe - to stand firm in its defence of public health and to strengthen, not weaken legislation covering the marketing of baby feeding products  in line with the recommendations of the World Health Assembly (3).

In its response to the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)  consultation Patti Rundall, OBE, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action, highlighted the fact that breastfeeding is the natural and optimum way to feed babies and provides an ideal window of opportunity for obesity prevention.  

"We are very  pleased that the Government seems to have listened to our concerns.  Allowing product placement of  and infant feeding products would exacerbate the serious problems the UK Government already has in trying to ensure that parents receive consistent, unbiased and objective information.  UK/EU legislation is already full of loopholes, and allows a high level of misleading advertising of baby milks and foods - many of which are high in sugars or sweeteners and which affect children's taste palates and appetite control. Many are cleverly promoted as the healthy option  with  deceptive health and nutrition  claims.  Allowing companies to pay to have any feeding product integrated into story lines makes an already bad situation much much worse so  It is a shame feeding equipment is not covered."

Product placement also creates  opportunities for manufacturers to mislead the public by linking their names to healthy or worthy activities such as a sport, good causes or education. In this way they can create an undeserved halo effect for the whole product range.  Under pressure to reduce direct advertising to children, many companies are representing themselves as ‘nutrition educators’  offering phone line and web-based help, information and education services - all key ways to market products and encourage the use of artificial feeding. (4)

Studies show that children are particularly susceptible to embedded brand messages which operate at an subconscious level. In its comments to the US Federal Communications Commission Notice of Inquiry on embedded advertising, (Sept 08) the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood said:

“As a result of the constant commercial bombardment, children are now  more brand conscious than ever. Toddlers as young as two have been found to have attachments to brands. Children as young as three are capable of recognizing trademarked brand logos. One study found that 81% of three- to six-year-olds after having seen just the logo for Coca-Cola can describe the soft-drink product. On average, teens between thirteen and seventeen have 145 conversations about brands per week, more than twice as many as adults."

The baby feeding industry shows no signs of abiding by its obligations under World Health Assembly Resolutions, or halting its drive to maintain and expand its markets in the face of government efforts to protect breastfeeding and infant health. (5) According to the analysis of the global baby food market, Euromonitor International,  "Baby food global retail value sales will surpass US$31 billion in 2008, a current value increase of 10.5% from the previous year at fixed US$ exchange rates. respectively. Western Europe and North America remain the third- and fourth-largest regional markets.

For more information contact: Patti Rundall  07786 523493

Notes for editors 

1. The full ministerial statement can be accessed on the DCMS website here:

2. IBFAN is a network of over 200 not-for-profit citizens groups working to protect infant and young child health in over 100 countries.

The Baby Feeding law Group Member organisations: Association of Breastfeeding Mothers - Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services - Association of Radical Midwives - Baby Milk Action - Best Beginnings – Breastfeeding Community - Breastfeeding Network - Caroline Walker Trust - Community Practitioners and Health Visitors’ Association - Food Commission - Lactation Consultants of Great Britain - La Leche League (GB) - Little Angels - Midwives Information and Resource Service - National Childbirth Trust - Royal College of Midwives - Royal College of Nursing   - Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health - The Baby Café - UK Association for Milk Banking - Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative - UNISON - Women’s Environmental Network.The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk  Substitutes and subsequent relevant WHA resolutions, which the UK has consistently endorsed but not yet implemented, calls on Member States to provide “objective and consistent” information on infant and young child feeding and the WHA Resolutions, especially... 

3. WHA 58.28 which  highlights the risks of conflicts of interest and urges Member States: "(4) to ensure that financial support and other incentives for programmes and health professionals working in infant and young-child health do not create conflicts of interest;"  The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) also contains important safeguards regarding  breastfeeding and the need to guard against exploitation.  The Uk and all governments that have ratified the CRC are legally bound by its provisions. Convention on the Rights of the Child:  Article 24 calls on States Parties to “recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.  (e) To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents;"  Article 36 calls on States Parties to “protect the child against all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare. “


4. Baby Milk Action Briefing: Tackling Obesity  How companies use education build trust :

5. For examples of marketing see:



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