Infant Nutrition Council calls for clearer labelling on infant formula products

 30 November 2015 – The Infant Nutrition Council (INC) is calling for changes to infant formula labelling restrictions that keep crucial nutrition and function claims from appearing on pack, fearing parents and carers are not receiving adequate information.

Research commissioned by the INC found many mothers and carers who use infant formula are confused by labels and find it difficult to make an informed choice.

The research showed:

  • Almost half of the respondents were not aware of ingredients in the formula they bought, nor did they understand the role of ingredients in that formula;
  • One in three felt they received insufficient information when purchasing formula for the first time;
  • Only three per cent found product labelling to be the most useful source of information on formula.

Infant Nutrition Council CEO Jan Carey said current restrictions mean labels aren’t helping parents understand what they are buying.

“The research tells us parents and carers want to know more about infant formula so that they can be confident in their purchasing decisions, and that they are making a choice that will suit their babies,” Ms Carey said.

“Not all infant formula products are the same – but parents can’t find out from the pack what ingredients are in it, and the labels don’t explain the scientifically validated benefits of the ingredients. This means they have no way of knowing why one product costs $15 and another costs $30.”

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) is currently reviewing Standard 2.9.1 – Infant Formula Products and other standards in the Code that regulate infant formula products.

“Compared to other countries, Australia and New Zealand are lagging in their willingness to provide adequate information to parents and carers about the formula they give their infants,” Ms Carey said.

“Countries like Canada, Malaysia and China allow nutrient content and function claims – both of which are prohibited here – to be displayed on packaging. This helps parents and carers to understand exactly what is in the products, and helps them differentiate between types of products. Withholding this information does not help parents and carers make informed decisions.”