Every mother has a right to breastfeed and every child has a right to be breastfed!
No less than the Philippines's Supreme Court has acknowledged that:
"the best nourishment for an infant is mother's milk. There is nothing greater than for a mother to nurture her beloved child straight from her bosom. The ideal is, of course, for each and every Filipino child to enjoy the unequaled benefits of breastmilk."
There is an extensive body of research documenting the importance of breastfeeding and in turn the associated risks of formula feeding. Some examples of these research studies were mentioned in a published hand-out entitled, "Risks of Formula Feeding, A Brief Annotated Bibliography" prepared and published by INFACT Canada in November 2002 (Second revision July 2006). Results of the studies are on the following page.
Risks of Formula Feeding
For Infants and Children:
- Asthma, allergy, acute respiratory disease, infection from contaminated formula, nutrient deficiencies, childhood cancers, chronic diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, gastrointestinal infections, mortality, otitis media and ear infections, side effects of environmental contaminants, altered occlusion, and
- Reduced cognitive development
- Breast cancer, overweight, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, maternal diabetes,
- Reduced natural child spacing,
- Increased stress and anxiety
These are just some of the reasons why it is imperative to protect and promote breastfeeding. Fortunately, there is the "MILK CODE."
I. What is the Milk Code?
E.O. 51, commonly referred to as, "The Milk Code", is a law that ensures safe and adequate nutrition for infants through the promotion of breastfeeding and the regulation of promotion, distribution, selling, advertising, product public relations, and information services artificial milk formulas and other covered products.
II. What products does the Milk Code cover?
- Breast milk substitutes, including infant formula and milk supplements
- Foods, beverages, and other milk products (when marketed or represented to be suitable, with or without modification, for use as partial or total replacement for breast milk)
- Bottle-fed complementary foods
- Feeding bottles and teats.
- Exclusive breastfeeding is for infants from 0 to 6 months.
- Breast milk has no substitute or replacement.
NOTE: Breastfeeding is best for babies ESPECIALLY during disasters.
- In addition to breastfeeding, appropriate and safe complementary feeding of infants should start from 6 months onwards.
- Breastfeeding is still appropriate for children up to 2 years of age and beyond.
- Infant or milk formula may be harmful to a child's health and may damage a child's formative development.
- Other related products such as teats, feeding bottles, and artificial feeding paraphernalia are prohibited in health facilities.
IV. Rules on donations
- Donation of products and materials defined and covered by the Milk Code shall be strictly prohibited.
- Other donations which are given in kind or in cash by milk companies, their agents, and their representatives, must be coursed through the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) for approval.
- Advertising, promotion, and other marketing materials that are not approved by the IAC.
NOTE: Marketing materials approved by the IAC reflect the IAC approval numbers in this format: IAC EO51 CA No. 10-___
- Giving of samples and supplies of covered products to any member of the general public, hospitals, health facilities, personnel within the healthcare system, and members of their families.
- Point-of-sale advertising, giving of samples, or any promotion devices to induce sales directly to consumers at the retail level (ex. special displays, discount coupons, premiums, rebates, special rates, bonus and tie-in sales, loss-leaders, prizes or gifts).
- Gifts, articles or utensils [that may promote the use of breast milk substitutes or bottle feeding] given to pregnant women, mother of infants, the general public and all mothers.
- Direct or indirect promotion of covered products to pregnant women or mothers of infants.
- Gifts of any sort with or without company name, logo, or brand name, given by milk companies, manufacturers, distributors, and representatives of products covered by the Code, to any member of the general public, hospitals, and other health facilities, including their personnel and members of their families.
- Promotion of infant formula or other products covered by the Milk Code in the healthcare system.
- Undermining of breastfeeding (e.g. outright prescribing of infant formula without medical or other legitimate reasons)
- Display of products covered by the Milk Code or placards and posters concerning such products in a healthcare facility.
- Using of "professional service" representatives, "mother craft nurses", or similar personnel provided or paid for by manufacturer or distributors of products covered by the Milk Code in the healthcare system.
- Assistance, logistics, or training, financial or material incentives, or gifts of any sort from milk companies to health workers.
- Information that implies or creates a belief that bottle feeding is equivalent or superior to breastfeeding.
- Accepting financial or material incentives or gifts of any sort, from milk companies, by a health worker.
- Providing samples of infant formula or other covered products, or of equipment and utensils for their preparation or use to health workers.
- Giving of samples of infant formula to pregnant women and mothers of infants or their family members by a health worker.
- Health and nutrition claims on labels and in advertisements.
- False or misleading information or claims on labels and in advertisements.
- Texts, pictures, illustrations, or information that discourage or seemingly undermine the benefits or superiority of breastfeeding, or that idealize the use of breast milk substitutes and milk supplements.
- Pictures of babies and children with their parents, siblings, grandparents, other relatives, or caregivers (yaya).
- The terms "humanized", "maternalized", "close to mother's milk", or similar words in describing breast milk substitutes or milk supplements.
- Pictures or texts idealizing the use of infant and milk formula.
- Opening of cans and boxes in Distribution outlets, including the smallest sari-sari store for the purpose of retailing covered milk products by the cup, bag or in any other form.
- Containers/Labels that are not compliant to Department Circular No. 2008-0006.
VI. Milk Code Monitor
Anyone who is committed in protecting and promoting breastfeeding can be a Milk Code monitor.
A Milk Code Monitor
- Monitors compliance and problems encountered in the implementation of the Milk Code
- Submit reports on the status of the Milk Code implementation to the FDA
- Verify reports of Milk Code violations
- Monitors the labels and marketing practices of products within the scope of the Code at various distribution centers
- Carry out monitoring activities at any time, or based on specific reports/suggestions from the FDA in their respective jurisdictions
A report of alleged violation should be supported by these items:
- Date and place where the violation was found or seen
- Specific location (health facility, store, TV ad, radio/TV channel)
- For printed matter, get a sample or picture of the violation
- For radio/TV ad or programs, clearly specify the airing time and TV channel or radio frequency
- For website-based violations, provide the web link
- For violative (ex. mislabeled or misbranded) products, a sample shall be purchased, and the receipt obtained and submitted as part of the evidence
VIII. How and where can the reports be given?
- Submit to the BFAD Central Office at Civic Drive, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, addressed to the Director, or
- Submit to the CHD Offices, addressed to the CHD Director
B. Telephone reports
- Report the alleged violation to the BFAD IAC Secretariat at tel. no. 028078386.
- BFAD Website: www.bfad.gov.ph
- Supply the information enumerated in VII-A.
IX. What sanctions may be imposed on Milk Code violators?
- Imprisonment of two months to one year.
- A fine of not less than ONE THOUSAND PESOS (P1,000.00) and not more than THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS (P30,000.00), or
- Suspension or revocation of license.