The Department of Health has released draft regulations relating to foodstuffs for infants and young children for public comment.
The document - the Draft Regulations Relating to Foodstuffs for Infants and Young Children - has been published in the Government Gazette No. R 184. Interested persons have until 2 May to submit comments before the regulations are finalised.
The purpose of the draft regulations is to contribute to safe nutrition for infants and young children, by means of setting standards for foods for infants and young children and by restricting inappropriate marketing practices used to promote these products.
The regulations will benefit the public by:
- Ensuring that all types of formula meet the nutritional requirements of babies and young children as established by accepted scientific data, when these are needed.
- Ensuring that labels of foodstuffs for infants and young children carry the correct instructions for preparation and proper storage, as well as nutritional information.
- Curbing misleading messages and claims to the public on foods aimed at infant and young children including infant feeding bottles.
- Reducing conflict of interest by health care personnel.
- Ensuring parents receive objective information to make informed choices about feeding their baby for their baby's health without commercial pressures.
"It is important that measures are in place to protect babies, these draft regulations will ensure that all types of formula meet the nutritional requirements of babies - while ensuring that breastfeeding is not undermined by the marketing of such products," Department spokesperson, Fidel Hadebe said.
The World Health Assembly (WHA) regularly calls for governments to translate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes into national legislation. The WHA recognises that improper practices in the marketing of breastmilk substitutes are contributing to inappropriate feeding practices and causing infant malnutrition, morbidity and infant deaths.
Hadebe noted that the marketing of breastmilk substitutes required special treatment, which makes usual marketing practices unsuitable for these products. "With the promulgation of these draft regulations, South Africa will join 84 other countries that have fully or partially legislated the code and subsequent relevant WHA resolutions."
When promulgated, the draft regulations will replace the existing Regulations Relating to Foodstuffs for Infants, Young Children and Children, No. R1130 of 8 June 1984 published under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act of 1972.
The draft regulations can be viewed on www.doh.gov.za (Resources Centre - Legislation).
Comments can be submitted to the Director-General: Health, Private Bag X828, Pretoria, 0001 (for the attention of the Directorate: Nutrition).