Establishing a monitoring system in Tasmania to help identify inappropriate infant formula marketing

Caryn Batchelor1, Alison  Graham2, Julie Williams2

1Public Health Services, Department Of Health And Human Services, Launceston, Australia; 2Public Health Services, Department Of Health And Human Services, Hobart, Australia

Background: In an effort to protect breastfeeding and to establish and support appropriate infant and young child feeding practices, Australia adopted the Marketing of Infant Formulas: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement (MAIF Agreement) in 1992, based on the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes (WHO Code).

Breastfeeding Coalition Tasmania formed over 20 years ago with the mission to work together to protect, promote and support breastfeeding in Tasmania. A key priority for the group is to identify and report marketing practices that have the potential to undermine breastfeeding.

The process for submitting complaints to the MAIF tribunal has been ad hoc. Six complaints were submitted over the past six years, with one upheld by the MAIF tribunal. This resulted in the company changing their infant formula labels.

Aim: To establish a consistent approach to monitoring and reporting inappropriate infant formula marketing practices in Tasmania.

Results: Data collection and analysis tools were developed and tested. Data was collected from 88 infant formula labels, 27 company websites, four social media sites, one billboard, and seven retail outlets.  Of the 88 infant formula products, 53 (60%) are covered by the MAIF Agreement. All data were found to contain promotional material potentially in breach of the WHO Code and possibly the MAIF Agreement. Twenty-nine complaints were completed for submission to the Department of Health.  Further complaints are yet to be finalised.

Conclusion: Public Health Services will undertake annual monitoring and analysis of infant formula marketing practices in Tasmania. Establishing a consistent monitoring system in Tasmania will help build evidence of infant formula marketing practices that are inconsistent with the MAIF Agreement and WHO Code. This evidence is required to advocate for a review of the MAIF Agreement to strengthen Australia’s stance on infant formula marketing and protect breastfeeding from commercial pressures and misleading information.


Caryn is an Accredited Practising Dietitian working in the Health Improvement Unit of Public Health Services. Caryn has a background in clinical dietetics, having worked in public and private hospitals and private practice. Since joining the public health team just over six months ago, Caryn has developed a keen interest in infant and early childhood nutrition, particularly in the feeding relationship and body image. Caryn is pleased to be here today to share with you the exciting new system Tasmanian community dietitians, in partnership with Breastfeeding Coalition Tasmania, are implementing to protect breastfeeding from commercial pressures and misleading information.

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