Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Formula Company Rapped for "Misleading" Ads

I suppose I should be pleased that infant formula manufacturer Nutricia, whose brands include Cow and Gate and Milupa, has been told off by the Advertising Standards Authority for claiming that their products could support babies' natural immune system, claims for which they could not produce credible evidence.

But I'm not pleased. I'm fizzing mad. It's taken two years since Baby Milk Action asked the ASA to investigate, two years in which parents have been misled by these reprehensible advertisements, for this ruling to be made.

And what sanctions are to be levied on this company? None. It gets a slap on the wrist. There is no penalty on them, and they are free to keep all the profits they earned while wrongly telling parents that their product could help protect their babies from illness and that their product was better than any other formula.

When are Governments going to take this sort of stuff seriously? These companies effectively have licence to do what they like. It's time, as a minimum, that they subjected follow on milks to the International Code on the Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes which would completely restrict their advertising to start with.

Then they need to think about prosecuting companies, and fining them significant amounts of money - enough so that it's a real deterrent - if they make misleading claims about their products or advertise them inappropriately.

I liked what Rosie Dodds of the NCT had to say on the subject:

"It is another example of how commercially-motivated formula milk manufacturers are tempted to misuse research to persuade parents to use their brand.

"They have overstepped the mark with this advertisement."

Will any Government ever have enough of a backbone to take these companies on to force them to act responsibly?

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