Posted on: August 03, 2023

Industry Response to The Lancet Series on Breastfeeding - Ensuring access to optimum nutrition requires a holistic approach

In a joint letter to the editor of The Lancet published today[1], the Secretary Generals of International Special Dietary Foods Industries (ISDI) and Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE) emphasise that a holistic approach is required to increase breastfeeding rates, including strengthening maternity leave, workplace policies and funding.

The joint ISDI-SNE letter responds to the ‘2023 Lancet series on breastfeeding’, authored by WHO representative Nigel Rollins et al[2], which creates the misleading impression that advertising is the main factor limiting breastfeeding. The series also addressed engagement with healthcare professionals and digital marketing. ISDI and SNE also take this opportunity to encourage WHO to rally all stakeholders, including the private sector, at policy debates on infant and early childhood nutrition, such as the recent ‘WHO Global Congress on Implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes’ (20-22 June)[3].

“An all-inclusive, supportive ecosystem involving multiple stakeholders is required to encourage breastfeeding and to improve nutritional outcomes for mothers, infants and young children. Such an approach includes transparent, science-based interactions with healthcare professionals, who require access to information about our industry’s products”, explains Jean-Christophe Kremer, Secretary General of ISDI.

“Over the years, improvements in maternal, infant and young-child nutritional health have been achieved through effective collaboration with healthcare professionals. We agree with paediatricians and medical societies who favour transparent interaction with our industry. This interaction must be carried out in compliance with professional and ethical standards”, added Beat Späth, Secretary General of SNE. ISDI, SNE and various national trade associations have been working to ensure compliance with such standards within their industry, inter alia with their Codes of Practice.

In conclusion, our industry welcomes all opportunities to work constructively with all relevant stakeholders, including policymakers and healthcare professionals, to promote evidence-based policies, ethical frameworks and parent and caregiver support to improve infant and young-child health and nutrition outcomes.

References 1. Kremer JC and Späth B; 2023 Breastfeeding and the role of the commercial formula industry. The Lancet. 402(10400) 2023 Aug 5 DOI:

2. Rollins N, Piwoz E, Baker P, Kingston G, Mabaso KM, McCoy D, Ribeiro Neves PA, Pérez-Escamilla R, Richter L, Russ K, Sen G, Tomori C, Victora CG, Zambrano P, Hastings G; 2023 Lancet Breastfeeding Series Group. Marketing of commercial milk formula: a system to capture parents, communities, science, and policy. The Lancet. 2023 Feb 11;401(10375):486-502. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(22)01931-6. Epub 2023 Feb 7. PMID: 36764314.

3. ; See also ISDI Statement “Working together to support optimum infant nutrition and informed infant feeding choices” (19 June 2023).

Media Contacts:

Beat Späth – [email protected]

Jean Christophe Kremer - [email protected]

About SNE and ISDI:

Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE) is the trade association representing the interests of the specialised nutrition industry across the European Union. SNE members are the national associations of 19 European countries, whose members are companies producing tailor made dietary solutions for populations with very specific nutritional needs. These include infants and young children, patients under medical supervision, sportspeople, overweight and obese consumers, and those suffering from coeliac disease.

ISDI is the leading international expert association on special dietary foods, including foods specifically designed for infants and young children. ISDI members are national and international associations that are active in this sector from more than 20 countries over 6 continents. Our members manufacture and market foods that are formulated, in accordance with applicable Codex Alimentarius standards, to meet the compositional criteria, quality requirement and nutritional needs of infants and young children.

Additional information:

Industry Codes:


- SNE:

ISDI’s and SNE’s previous publications on industry’s role in the debate and on industry’s interactions with healthcare professionals include: - SNE position paper “Scientific Dialogue is essential, last updated October 2022”- ISDI Statement: “Working together to support optimum infant nutrition and informed infant feeding choices” (19 June 2023). - ISDI Statement: “Supporting optimal nutrition and ethical interactions with healthcare professionals”, December 2022

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