Toddler milk drinks in Australia

Toddler milk drinks are specially formulated to help supplement a young child’s diet when energy and nutrient intake may not be adequate. They can provide a convenient source of energy and nutrients identified as important for this age group, especially iron, and also vitamin D, iodine and zinc, when included as part of a toddler’s varied diet.

Toddler milk drinks are regulated under a specific provision of the Food Standards Code (2.9.3 – Division 4 – Formulated supplementary foods for young children), different from infant formula products.  Standard 2.9.3 contains compositional requirements for energy, protein, vitamins and minerals.  The labelling provisions require a statement on toddler milk drinks to the effect that they are “a supplement to a normal diet to address situations when intakes of energy and nutrients may not be adequate to meet an individual’s requirements.”

Toddler milk drinks may provide parents with nutritional options for their children depending on their individual nutritional needs.  For example, recent Australian data found that 25% of toddlers aged 12-24 months had low iron intake.1 For parents of these children, toddler milk drinks can be one option to help address inadequate iron intake.

The same research1 also showed that around 15% of infants aged 12-24 months consumed toddler milk drinks.

Parents want to be well-informed about the nutritional needs of infants and young children, and the responsible marketing of toddler milk drinks is a part of that information and awareness.  Parents and carers are encouraged to seek advice from their healthcare professional to understand the specific nutritional needs of their child, and whether certain formulated supplementary foods, such as toddler milk drinks, are suitable.

 

The MAIF Agreement and Food Standards Code

Infant Nutrition Council members are signatories of the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement 1992 (the “MAIF Agreement”), which is Australia’s response to the World Health Organisation’s International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (the “WHO Code”).  The MAIF Agreement aims to ‘contribute to the safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by the protection and promotion of breastfeeding and by ensuring the proper use of breastmilk substitutes, when they are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution’.

In Australia, the MAIF agreement covers breastmilk substitutes, which are infant formula and follow-on formula, appropriate for infants up to 12 months of age, and are regulated by the Chapter 2.9.1 (Infant Formula Products) of the Food Standards Code.  Toddler milk drinks are not breastmilk substitutes in Australia, and therefore not in scope of the MAIF Agreement.  This is consistent with the WHO Code’s implementation in other countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the members of the European Union.  Toddler milk drinks can be, and are, marketed in a responsible, age-appropriate way (for children more than 12 months of age).

 

The Infant Nutrition Council

The Infant Nutrition Council represents the vast majority of manufacturers, marketers and ingredient suppliers of infant formula and toddler milk drinks in Australia and New Zealand. All members are required to abide by codes representing the local response to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes 1981 and Council’s own Code of Conduct to ensure industry best practice.

[1] https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/14/7/1381