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Cute baby pictures banned on formula milk packaging

BYE, bye to bonnie babies smiling at us from the supermarket shelves.

Cute infants beaming from the front of formula packs will soon be a thing of the past.

New EU legislation is to outlaw the use of baby pictures on labels for milk and other products.

The new regulations ban pictures of well-fed-looking babies from labelling on infant formula for ages up to 12 months, as well as on some foods sold for special medical purposes.

A spokeswoman for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said that under current labelling restrictions no baby pictures are allowed on infant formula up to six months.

However, the restriction on infant pictures hasn't applied to follow-on formula, such as those by Cow & Gate (right) and SMA (inset), the milk-based food for babies over six months.

"We welcome the fact that it is coming in. The number-one advice is that breast feeding is best for infants," the FSAI spokeswoman added.

It said that the aim is to provide better protection for consumers and help them distinguish more clearly between foods for normal consumption and foods for specific groups such as coeliacs. The new rules also cover some low-calorie diets.

RELIABLE

Labour Party MEP Nessa Childers said: "Parents need to be confident and have reliable information when buying food for their babies, in particular, milk-based products.

"In future, the labelling of milk-based food for babies up to the age of 12 months, including follow-on formula, will not include any pictures of infants or other pictures intended to idealise the use of such foods, to make sure that breast feeding is not discouraged.

"After much tough negotiations by MEPs with national governments, the Parliament won a victory to extend labelling restrictions which currently apply to infant formula, to follow-on formula.

"Using pictures will not be permitted on either infant or follow-on formula," she said.

However, graphic representations intended for easy identification of the formula and for illustrating methods of preparation will still be permitted.

The regulation will be published in the EU's Official Journal in the coming weeks but will only apply from 2016, giving businesses time to adapt their commercial practices. However, no products will have to be withdrawn from the market.

Milk-based drinks for young children, from one to three years, are not included in this special foods regulations, also known as 'growing up milks'.

fdillon@herald.ie


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