Setting global standards

Share this

GAIN pushes a market-led approach at Codex

In November, we joined IBFAN Africa and Infact Canada at the 2010 Codex meeting on Nutrition in Santiago, Chile. The Codex Alimentarius Commission sets global food standards and industry delegates can outnumber government delegates at meetings. It took us over a decade to bring the baby food and formula standards into line with the International Code and Resolutions - not least because the Chair, Prof. Grossklaus, was consistently biased towards industry. He famously threatened us with a “Red Card” (Update 37) for calling for independently funded science and declarations of conflicts of interest. Grossklaus retired in 2009, and the new chair Pia Noble, is somewhat fairer.

However the big power blocks of the US and EU still have disproportionate power. For example, in the debate about India’s proposals for a standard for baby foods for underweight children, Basil Mathioudakis, speaking for the European Commission, tried to weaken wording protecting 6 months exclusive breastfeeding - perhaps because the EU baby food Directive still allows labelling from 4 months.

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) (see Update 42) hovered behind the scenes pushing its market-led approach to development - the idea that ‘formulated’ baby foods and supplements should be promoted to the general public for the prevention of malnutrition. Such marketing is dangerous. It can create dependency on imported foods and undermine breastfeeding and traditional healthy feeding habits and skills.

Codex report:

(We attend as IACFO - the International Association of Consumer Food Organisations)


Education - Wyeth style

Among the many promotions for imported fortified milks in the Philippines, this one is appalling.

A notice in a Manila supermarket aisle beside S26 Progress toddler milks (1-3 yrs) and S26 Promil Gold (6 -12months) says: “A toddler  can learn anywhere - even in this aisle. Teach him what these items are and help him write them on this paper. Help him make better Progress”  

Photo: Karleen Gribble  






Breastfeeding promotion: a good idea? If so, who pays?

Follow this link to a 4-minute film where passers by are interviewed about a Save the Children breastfeeding advertising campaign in China in September:

SCF China breastfeeding ad. 2010SCF China breastfeeding ad. 2010

Advertising may help change attitudes, but it can also soak up funds and divert attention away from less noticed, but essential interventions such as health-worker training, peer counselling or marketing controls. It can also attract unhealthy sponsors - see below. Tell us what you think.

Below: In India it is illegal to advertise products for children under 2. Nestlé gets round this by promoting World Breastfeeding Week with the Nestle logo!