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UK nurses warned over milk formula marketing

Guidance has been launched by UNICEF to increase awareness among UK clinicians of the marketing practices of infant formula companies.

It notes that while most people are aware of aggressive marketing techniques to sell infant formula in the developing world, there is a lack of understanding that similar practices exist in the UK.

The new document – A guide for health workers to working within the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes – sets out ways formula manufacturers may seek to influence health professionals to endorse their product, for example, through using branded pens or attending sponsored study days.

Baby Friendly director Sue Ashmore, director of the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, said: “Health professionals, particularly midwives and health visitors, are extremely valuable to formula companies because of their trusted status and constant access to new parents.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I find it rather offensive to assume that by attending a study day arranged (and subsidised) by a formula company I am compromising my integrity in any way. I would not display or use any article that promoted formula feeding, when I believe wholeheartedly that breast feeding is best. However when offered a place on a valuable learning session that is within my financial abilities to pay for, because it is subsidised, I see no reason not to. I do not doubt the companies have ulterior motives for what they do - that is not my problem. We are all 'professionals' shouldn't we be treated as such and given a little trust?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • It is not new practice for companies to sponsor training days, it happens in all professions, I attended training days organised by hardware manufacturers, it didn't mean that I was compromising my professional judgement to use the best hardware for the job. Drug companies visit GP surgeries with their version of a statin, for example, which is why one GP may prescribe Atorvastatin and another Simvastatin, does this mean that either GP has compromised their integrity?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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