Invitation to comment on draft regulations relating to foodstuffs for infants and young children
The Department of Health has published draft Regulations relating to Foodstuffs for Infants and Young Children in the Government Gazette No. R 184 for public comment.
Interested persons have two months until 2nd May 2012 to submit comments on the draft Regulations before they are finalised.
The purpose of the draft regulations is to contribute to safe nutrition for infants and young children, by means of setting standards for foodstuffs for infants and young children and by restricting inappropriate marketing practices used to promote these products.
HOW THE REGULATIONS WILL BENEFIT THE PUBLIC:
· Ensure that all types of formula meet the nutritional requirements of babies and young children as established by accepted scientific data, when these are needed.
· Ensure that labels of foodstuffs for infants and young children carry the correct instructions for preparation and proper storage, as well as nutritional information.
· Curbing misleading messages and claims to the public on foods aimed at infant and young children including infant feeding bottles.
· Reduce conflict of interest by health care personnel.
· Ensure parents receive objective information to make informed choices about feeding their baby for their baby’s health without commercial pressures.
The Government is committed to promote, support and protect exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding up to two years or longer because of the many health benefits to babies and mothers. Although breastfeeding is the best, Government recognise that some women due to medical reasons cannot breastfeed or decide not to breastfeed. These draft Regulations do not, in any way compel women to breastfeed against their will. The Regulations will also not stop infant formula and complementary foods from being available at retail level. It is important that measures are in place to protect babies. These draft Regulations will ensure that all types of formula meet the nutritional requirements of babies – while ensuring that breastfeeding is not undermined by the marketing of such products.
The draft Regulations are in line with international standards pertaining to foods for infants and young children and incorporates many provisions of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 1981.
The World Health Assembly (WHA) regularly calls for governments to translate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes into national legislation. The World Health Assembly recognise that improper practices in the marketing of breastmilk substitutes are contributing to inappropriate feeding practices and causing infant malnutrition, morbidity and infant deaths. Marketing of breastmilk substitutes requires special treatment, which makes usual marketing practices unsuitable for these products. With the promulgation of these draft Regulations, South Africa will join 84 other countries that have fully or partially legislated the Code and subsequent relevant WHA resolutions.
The draft Regulations, when promulgated, will replace the existing Regulations Relating to Foodstuffs for Infants, Young Children and Children, No. R1130 of 8 June 1984 published under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act of 1972.
The draft regulations can be viewed on www.doh.gov.za (Resources Centre – Legislation).