BSNA members are disappointed that Channel 4 televised a misleading episode of Dispatches on 18 March 2019, with many inaccuracies and assertions likely to unduly concern parents who, whether due to medical need or personal choice, feed their children infant formula.

BSNA members fully recognise breastfeeding as the best way to feed a baby and support initiatives to increase the rates of breastfeeding in the UK.

However, for those babies who are not exclusively fed breastmilk, sometimes for medical reasons, the only food recognised as a suitable and safe alternative to breastmilk is a scientifically developed infant formula. As an industry, we also provide life-saving formulas without which some babies would not thrive, and in some cases not survive.

We are a highly regulated industry and rightly so. The strict legal framework within which we operate sets standards for the composition and communication about baby milks.  It gives parents a high level of protection and is closely scrutinised.  Additionally, companies are only able to use European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved claims on product labels. We would therefore urge any parent who has concerns about their specialised formula to speak to their healthcare professional before making any changes. 

Whilst all formulas satisfy mandatory requirements, formulas differ due to additional ingredients led by scientific innovation. For example, a form of Omega-3 has been voluntarily added to some formulas for several years and from 2020 every formula sold in the UK will be required to contain it.  Our long history of research and innovation has led to significant improvements to infant formulas without which babies and parents would not benefit from the advanced formulas that are available today.

We respect the role and integrity of clinicians and are committed to the principles and aims of the WHO Code, as set out in UK law.  The WHO Code allows for companies and healthcare professionals to work together to conduct research and share scientific and factual information.  The principles of our members’ engagement with healthcare professionals are fully transparent and are set out in the Infant Nutrition Industry (INI) Code.

We believe that clinicians are well able to make good judgements about their relationship with industry of any type, within the framework of their own professional code of ethics.

We share a common goal with healthcare professionals to ensure that all babies have access to the best nutrition.