Green Party, Senator Pauline O’Reilly, has said she “would welcome” a ban on formula milk advertising.
She made the remark in response to a report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media’s report.
It recommended a moratorium on advertising formula milk online.
The committee published its report on the Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2020 on November 2nd, 2021.
The committee made a total of 33 recommendations in the report.
- The establishment and operation of the proposed content levy;
- Individual complaints mechanisms;
- Regulation of illegal and harmful content, advertising standards;
- The functions of the Media Commission and, in particular, the establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner.
Formula milk advertising
Commenting on its recommended moratorium on advertising formula milk online, the Green Party senator said:
“Ireland’s low rates of breastfeeding are not an accident.”
“We are a large exporter of dairy formula milk. Advertising works, and this is the only reason that companies invest.”
“All mothers should have choices around how to feed their babies, with the support of expert healthcare professionals.”
“Advertising products does nothing to support that choice as it actually damages the rates of breastfeeding. And this country has dismally low rates of breastfeeding.”
She said these formula companies “mimic” health promotion in their advertising. “That is something that we cannot support”.
“Quite apart from the health implications, increasing or even stabilising the formula market is doing huge damage to our environment,” she claimed.
She believes that “politicians who defend the advertising of breast milk substitutes should take a look at themselves”.
“Our chronically low breastfeeding rates are no accident. The entire purpose is to expand or stabilise the formula market share, which means reducing the market share of breasts.”
New food law
A new EU food law came into effect on February 22nd, 2020.
It further restricts advertising and marketing of infant formula (formula products suitable for infants-age 0-12-months).
According to the FSAI, all written, electronic and verbal communication to consumers and health professionals on infant formula must comply with the new laws.
The body said the EU has “tightened” the rules in “the interest of promoting and protecting breastfeeding”.
The FSAI added: “The restrictions involve discontinuing the use of most nutrition and health claims on infant formula.”
“The impact will be notable in that product labels will be cleaner with very few claims allowed.”
The authority said the law does not permit statements claiming benefits related to individual nutrients.
“For example, an infant formula cannot be linked to immune or gut health benefits, in either the presentation, labelling or advertising.”
“However, if there is some new scientific development, this science can be communicated to health professionals.”