The Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses has rejected calls to introduce a single, standard conversion rate for all protein sources in infant formula.
"This would have understated the protein content of products based on milk and overstated the protein contents of products based on soya," said Jim Begg, director general of industry body Dairy UK.
The dairy industry has claimed the ruling as a victory against soy milk producers, which have emerged as more serious rivals in several dairy product categories over the last few years.
Proposals put before the Codex Committee earlier this year would have set a single conversion rate of 6.25 for nitrogen-protein conversion in infant formula.
Begg said rejection of this proposal was a victory for science over simplicity. "Use of these more accurate conversion factors will lead to more accurate protein contents of infant formulae."
The news follows a speech by John Kerner, a professor in pediatrics at Stanford University in the US, who warned that all infant formulas containing intact proteins posed a potential allergy risk to children.
Kerner, speaking at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies meeting, said although infant formula containing cow's milk protein had been shown to cause allergies in some children, soy varieties were not a sensible alternative.