PICTURES of smiling babies will be banned from all tins of baby formula milk under new EU moves to stop the hard sell of these products and to stop breastfeeding being undermined.
The EU has agreed to place new marketing restrictions on follow-on formula milk which is typically aimed at babies between six and 12 months.
While there are already stringent restrictions on the marketing of formula milk aimed at newborns and very young babies, manufacturers have used the laxer regime applying to follow-on milks to promote their brands.
But the EU has now moved to ban pictures of infants or other images which idealise formula milk products from the labels of all milks aimed at babies up to 12 months.
Parenting support group Cuidiu welcomed the move which spokesperson Sue Jameson said was important to prevent bottle feeding being made to look like the best choice for babies.
"A lot of these milks use images of very small babies and 90pc of women who see them wouldn't make the distinction between infant formula and follow-on milks, because really they're all about promoting the brand," she said.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) welcomed the extension of restrictions to follow-on milk and said that it received quite a lot of complaints from consumers about how formula milk was currently marketed .
The FSAI was 100pc in support of breastfeeding as the best option for babies and marketing restrictions were needed to stop bottle feeding being presented as a more attractive option, a spokesperson said.
The MEP Nessa Childers said the new restrictions voted by the European Parliament would help parents get more reliable information when buying food for their babies.
"Babies' health is too important to be left in the hands of a multinational company's marketing department," she said.
'Growing-up' milks aimed at children between one and three years are not included in the new Special Health Claims regulations agreed by the EU.
However, the commission will carry out a report into these milk products to establish if there is any nutritional advantage to young children in consuming them.
The EU also backed new moves to improve labelling on diet foods and on those aimed at people with specific medical conditions such as coeliacs.
These new regulations will not be introduced until 2016 to give industry time to adapt.