Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The frontiers of knowledge are pushed farther and farther by scientists in various fields and food is no exception. Billions of dollars are invested on research in food, health and nutrition by both private and public developmental outfits for both commercial advantages as well as enriching knowledge base of the humanity. While private funded initiatives mostly end up in patents, public efforts get disseminated through publications and other information carriers. What baffles the consumers is about the veracity of claims made by private industry as a result of their supposed R & D endeavor. Here is a classical example of an industry, long on its back foot for promoting designer infant foods and discouraging the healthier option of breast feeding, befuddling the consumers by surreptitiously claiming that its new formulation is best for the baby, thus encouraging unsuspecting mothers to switch over to formula feeding. Obviously the claim is based on some research "findings" that the new formula containing the Omega-3 acid, DHA is capable of improved eye health and vision development to the children, up to the age of 12months.

"Most vocal of those against the claim is pro-breast feeding group Baby Milk Action (BMA) which questions EFSA's opinion that safety and efficacy has been demonstrated for the nutrient, and highlights ongoing US Food and Drug Administration investigations around it. It therefore opposes adding claims to breast milk substitutes (in this case follow-on formulas and baby foods aimed at babies between the ages of 6-12 months) that may make them more attractive to mothers and care givers. Their call has been backed by groups such as UNICEF, the International Association for the Study of Obesity, and the International Obesity TaskForce. UNICEF said allowing claims on follow-on formula would "undermine" European Union efforts to promote breast feeding. "On the basis, therefore, of these observations, UNICEF would be supportive of the proposed resolution opposing health claims," it stated. BMA's Patti Rundall told NutraIngredients:"This approval is based on industry-funded science and is damaging to people's understanding of breast milk substitutes."

That agencies like UNICEF were able to see through the game plan may probably may help beat back the aggressive plan of the industry to revive the fortunes of the sagging infant food manufacturing sector. The very fact that Europeans were able to be convinced by the latest claim exposes the dangerous nexus between the baby food industry and some bureaucratic section of the food safety agency, calling for eternal vigilance amongst the consumer activist organizations for nipping in the bud such undesirable activities by the profit-hungry industry.


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