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No promotional labels to be allowed on baby formula

By Du Liya (Global Times)

08:20, September 06, 2012

The packaging of infant formula for babies under six months old should not include the content of some necessary nutrients, or highlight the function, or draw a comparison with other products of the same kind, according to a draft regulation released for public discussion by the Ministry of Health Tuesday.

The draft aims to update a national standard in 2005 on labeling of prepackaged foods for special dietary uses. It lists infant formula, supplementary foods for infants and foods made for medical purposes.

According to the draft, the composition of foods for special dietary uses is different from ordinary food, and all those foods can label their nutrients included and functions, except for infant formula consumed by babies under the age of six months.

If adopted, words including "promote the cerebral growth" and "good for eyesight" will be banned from the label of the infant formula, "as the infants need more balanced nutrition and the functional statement in the label is not necessary," Han Junhua, associate researcher at the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying.

"The excessive emphasis on the function of calcium and other elements are widely seen in the infant formula publicity," Wang Dingmian, former deputy chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association, told the Global Times, adding that thanks to those advertisements, people know that DHA helps in brain growth.

"The draft will have a positive effect on regulating the labels from excessive publicity, especially now that the infant formula is launching a huge publicity campaign," Hou Caiyun, professor with the college of food science and nutritional engineering at China Agriculture University, told the Global Times.

"However, we will take a wait-and-see approach in the enforcement, as the punishment for infractions is not mentioned in the draft," Hou added.

Wang echoed Hou's words saying that supervision on the label should be strengthened in a strict manner by the watchdog after the new regulation comes into effect.

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