ACCC looks to reauthorize voluntary Australia infant formula marketing code

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

ACCC looks to reauthorize voluntary Australia infant formula marketing code

Related tags: Infant formula

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has proposed to reauthorize a voluntary code that prohibits the advertising and promotion of infant formula in the country.

At the request of the Infant Nutrition Council (INC), the ACCC has proposed to reauthorize the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula Agreement (MAIF Agreement).

The MAIF Agreement, authorized since 1992, was devised by the Infant Nutrition Council (INC), which represents the infant formula industry in Australia and New Zealand.

Signatories include Abbott, Bayer, HJ Heinz, Nestlé, Nutricia, and Pfizer. 

The MAIF Agreement governs the marketing of infant formula for children up to the age of 12 months by manufacturers and importers in Australia, and their interactions with health care professionals.

The voluntary code gives effect in Australia to the principles of the World Health Organization (WHO(INC Code of Practice). International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (WHO Code).

"The MAIF Agreement is a cost-effective way to help protect and promote breastfeeding in Australia,"​ said Delia Richard, commissioner, ACCC.

"Breastfeeding of infants provides real health benefits to Australian society, and this industry agreement promotes and protects breastfeeding by restricting inappropriate advertising of infant formula."

The proposal is now for comment from interested parties. 

The ACCC will only reauthorize the MAIF Agreement if it is satisfied the public benefit of the code outweighs any restriction on trade. 

In April 2015, the New Zealand Commerce Commission granted INC the power to enforce its Code of Practice for Marketing of Infant Formula​ (INC Code of Practice) - the New Zealand equivalent of the MAIF Agreement.

The INC Code of Practice, a voluntary code that restricts the advertising and marketing of infant formula for children under six months of age, is signed by the likes of Fonterra, Nestlé, Abbott Nutrition, Heinz, and Nutricia.

In its November 2014 application, INC said it feared that its members, driven by the activities of non-members, would be "incentivised to increase their own marketing."

Satisfied the "public benefits outweigh the likely competitive detriments", ​the Commerce Commission authorized INC's request.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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