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No claims at Codex 

We joined the IBFAN team, representing IACFO (the International Association of Consumer Food Organisations) at the Codex Alimentarius Nutrition meeting in Germany in December. GAIN and the baby food industry failed in an attempt to legitimise health claims in the Guidelines on Formulated Supplementary Foods for older infants and young children. At the request of the IBFAN delegate the FAO/EU film (see below) was shown to everyone. It was also shown at the Save the Children workshop on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies in June. There was much debate about when supplements are needed and how they might undermine local family foods. 

Improve the food security of farming families affected by volatile food prices. This short but important film by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the EU gives a different message to those suggesting that all babies need micronutrient supplements. The film shows children in Cambodia getting healthier as parents learn how to provide nutritious meals from readily available local ingredients alone. 

The IBFAN group in Indonesia, AIMi, made another useful film(cartoon with english subtitles), with the support of Save the Children. AIMi also managed to stop an unethical industry funded formula trial going ahead in January (see below).

Whether the Codex Follow-on Formula Standard should be revised was also a hot topic, with the baby food industry keen to open up the market - not just for formulas for 6-12months, but for the potentially huge market for older babies and young children. WHO, supported by many governments, including the US, called for a review on whether there was any need for these products or indeed a separate standard.


European Union

The EU has been discussing much the same questions during the reform of PARNUTS, the Framework Directive that determines how baby formula and food legislation is formed. MEPs called for much stricter rules on marketing and the use of the  precautionary principle. The Greens called for no advertising of foods for infants and young children. MEPs, like most health professionals are worried about formulas for older babies and young children, not just because of the cross-branding but the excess sugar levels. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which has revised its rules on Conflicts of Interest, will review these products and the nutritional needs of infants and young children. Among other changes, baby pictures and idealised images and text on follow-on formula labels will end and promotion of specialised formulas will be reviewed and possibly curtailed. See Policy Blog: http://info.babymilkaction.org/EUFOODLAW 


WHO Reform, Non-communicable Diseases, Conflicts of Interest and WHO’s interactions with "Non State Actors"

These have been key cross-cutting issues that we have followed at WHO’s meetings and consultations throughout the year as members of IBFAN, the Conflict of Interest Coalition and Democratising Global Health.

WHO’s Director General, Dr Margaret Chan, is now repeatedly stressing the need to protect WHO’s ‘norms and standards’ setting process. A WHA Resolution (65.6) passed in May 2012 called for safeguards against conflict of interest in policy development and implementation of nutrition programmes. Whether WHO will adopt a coherent and effective policy to protect itself and its policy making process from undue influence remains to be seen. Resolution 65.6 also addressed breastfeeding and the marketing of complementary foods. (See stories on PAHO page 21 and GAIN page 25.)


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