Intended for healthcare professionals


Standards for infant formula milk

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 16 March 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:621
  1. Berthold Koletzko, professor of paediatrics (,
  2. Raanan Shamir, associate professor of paediatrics
  1. Dr von Hauner Children's Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich, D-80337 Munich, Germany
  2. Meyer Children's Hospital, Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel

    Commercial interests may be the strongest driver of what goes into formula milk

    The quality of infant feeding is of paramount importance for growth, development, and long term health well into adulthood.1 Breast feeding is recognised as the ideal form of infant feeding, providing multiple benefits for child health.2 Thus breast feeding should be actively promoted, protected, and supported. Infants who cannot be fed at the breast, who should not receive breast milk, or for whom breast milk is not available need infant formula milks of high quality.3

    The Codex Alimentarius Commission, part of both the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization, develops standards, guidelines, and related texts on food to protect consumers' health and to ensure fair trade practices globally. Most of the world's population lives in the more than 160 countries that are members of the Codex Alimentarius. Its standard on infant formula was adopted in 1981, based on scientific knowledge of the 1970s,4 and it is currently being revised.

    At the end of November 2005 the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses met in Bonn, Germany, and discussed among other issues revision of the standard on infant formula. The meeting was attended by government delegations …

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