Take action by 11/8! FDA wants to hear from you on infant formula marketing
The Food and Drug Administration is seeking feedback from the public on proposed standards for infant formula marketing, a move with potential to support breastfeeding and curb deceptive industry marketing practices.
Over the past few years, communities around the US have made great strides to support breastfeeding mothers – from workplace accommodations written into the Affordable Care Act to rising numbers of baby-friendly hospitals – but too many mothers and children still face obstacles to breastfeeding. While three out of four mothers start out breastfeeding, only 43% are able to continue breastfeeding for the recommended six months; among African-American mothers, 58% start out breastfeeding, a rate that falls to 28% at the six-month mark.
The infant formula industry isn't helping. Aggressive and often deceptive marketing by infant formula companies misleads parents and undermines breastfeeding. Specifically, these companies use “structure/function” labeling claims (these are claims that a nutrient or dietary ingredient will affect the normal structure or function of the human body, allowing companies to, for example, claim that their product supports infant health or digestion) to market their products. These claims often hinge on false or unproven health claims that confuse and mislead parents by implying that formula may be better than breastmilk.
This September, the Food and Drug Administration released draft guidance for the infant formula industry that would require companies to provide evidence for any structure/function claims they make.
The FDA is currently seeking feedback on these proposed regulations. We encourage you to review the guidelines and submit a comment letter by the deadline, next Tuesday, November 8. Our colleagues at the California WIC Association have posted a draft comment letter.
Breastfeeding provides health benefits for both mothers and babies, protecting infants against infections and illnesses, including chronic diseases like asthma, and decreasing mothers’ risk of breast and ovarian cancers, as well as providing opportunities for a mother and baby to bond. Many mothers face barriers to breastfeeding, such as lack of support from healthcare professionals and social networks and lack of family leave and workplace practices. Let’s make sure misinformation isn’t one more hurdle for mothers.