How countries enforce the Code
The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes aims
to promote infant nutrition by protecting breastfeeding from inappropriate
marketing of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes. It is a minimum
standard, enforceable through “national legislation, regulations or other
suitable measures.” Only countries that have adopted legally enforceable
measures implementing the Code in its entirety are listed in category
1. Just 16 countries fall into this category—a disappointing showing
considering that the Code is a minimum standard.
Countries in category 2 have enacted only some of the Code’s
provisions. For example, the member States of the European Union, based
on an EU Directive, have adopted legislation that is weaker than the Code.
It provided that legislation only apply to infant formulas (and not to
the wider category of breastmilk substitutes, bottles and teats) and that
advertising be allowed in baby care and scientific publications.
Category 3 includes countries that have developed voluntary agreements
with manufacturers providing no means of enforcement. In Australia this
approach has proved reasonably successful. But the widespread violations
reported in South Africa and Thailand (see Commentary) show the
shakiness of such arrangements. Also in category 3 are countries
that have drafted measures or are still examining how best to implement
the Code. Many are from Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth
of Independent States, where the distribution of breastmilk substitutes
was formerly centrally controlled.