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Europe to vote on baby milk ad claims

MEPs will have the final say on approval or rejection of a claim that a formula baby milk can improve an infant's eyesight.

A vote in Strasbourg is expected to be close after months of controversy over the claim by baby milk manufacturer Mead Johnson about the benefits of its milk products containing a fatty acid called DHA.

Today's vote will either endorse, or kill off, a claim which has been hotly disputed by consumer groups and some scientific experts.

DHA -- "docosahexanenoic acid" -- is found in small amounts in breast milk and is a recognised factor in the development of infants' retinas.

The EU's Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health has already authorised the claim.

But British MEP Glenis Willmott says there is no consistent independent evidence that the synthesised version of DHA used in formula milk -- different from that found in breast milk -- has the same eyesight benefits.

"Parents will always want the very best for their children, which is why we should be extra careful about scrutinising claims like this one," she said.