Formula threat to infant nutrition

2012-09-19 20:47

Cape Town - The "aggressive marketing" of milk formula in South Africa is undermining the nutrition of infants and young children, members of Parliament's health portfolio committee heard on Wednesday.

Health department acting director for nutrition Gilbert Tshitaudzi said: "Currently, we have a challenge on our hands in terms of the erosion of breast-feeding in our communities."

One of the reasons for this was "the aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes - in this case, formula - by the industry".

This undermined "mothers, pregnant women, infants and young children in terms of getting adequate nutrition", he said.

The committee was being briefed on draft regulations aimed at plugging gaps in the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act.

Tshitaudzi said the new regulations would "limit the unnecessary promotion of infant formula by health workers and also by industry".

The department had been speaking to the industry over a number of years.

"But what has happened over the years is that because of all the loopholes [in the legislation] governing breast milk substitutes, this has resulted in violations by certain companies in South Africa."

He did not name the companies.


The department had a responsibility to ensure "the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants and young children", including the protection, promotion and support of breast-feeding.

"The aggressive marketing erodes... breast-feeding," Tshitaudzi said.

According to a document tabled at the briefing, the new regulations will, among other things, "limit the unnecessary promotion of infant formula by health workers, thus strengthening health outcomes for South African women and children".

The draft regulations had been published for public comment.

The document notes there were "major concerns" from manufacturers about the draft regulations.

These concerns included a "perceived violation of constitutional rights" and the "legality of the regulations".

There was also a "perceived conflict with the Consumer Protection Act".

MPs expressed concern about the proposed regulations, saying they needed further study.

  • cherri.pye.5 - 2012-09-19 21:14

    I am very pro-breastfeeding for infants, but really don't think anyone, including the government, can dictate how and what you feed your baby. Why don't they tackle the crime in this country instead of wasting time and money on non-issues such as this?

  • Kerry Costello - 2012-09-20 03:06

    This makes me so mad. What aggressive marketing? There is none as far as I am concerned. Yes, yes, breast feeding is best but when you can't breast feed you have no access to information about what is best and what each type formula does. Bloody breast feeding nazi's!

  • max.reynecke - 2012-09-20 05:26

    A big tender is on its way for one or other crony....just wait and see.

  • liezle.badenhorst - 2012-09-20 09:38

    What about HIV positive mothers? Isn't the virus transferable through body fluids, like breast milk? Honestly, I cannot believe the ignorance of our so-called health services...

  • Jenny Anderson - 2014-04-04 12:56

    Since when does some MAN who will never have a baby of breastfeed one, tell woman how to feed and what to feed with. He has no idea what some woman and her baby go through with breastfeeding.I was one of them I COULD NOT FEED. Baby lost weight and I was wreck.Formula came to the rescue.What a cheek, what happened to freedom of choice. Dam IDOIT

  • Kerri- Lee Barlow - 2014-04-04 14:54

    I'm pro breast feeding but I think it's a personal choice. Out everyone I know who has either breast fed or not I see no difference between the babies. I understand from a social level with the high levels of poverty it would be more beneficial to push breast feeding, but again surely that's a woman's own private choice? It's not like we are idiots who can't look at both sides and way the pros and cons and reach an informed decision.

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