Cross-sectional survey shows that follow-up formula and growing-up milks are labelled similarly to infant formula in four low and middle income countries

This article was published in the Maternal & Child Nutrition Supplement: Availability, Promotion and Consumption of Commercial Infant Foods.

Abstract: This cross-sectional survey assessed the characteristics of labels of follow-up formula (FUF) and growing-up milk (GUM) compared with infant formula (IF), including cross-promotion practices between FUF/GUM and IF manufactured by the same company, sold in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Kathmandu Valley, Nepal; Dakar Department, Senegal; and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. All products were imported. A wide recommended age/age range for introduction was provided by manufacturers across all sites, with products with an age recommendation of 0–6 months being most prevalent in three sites, representing over a third of all products. Various age categories (e.g. 1, 1+ and Stage 1) commonly appeared on labels. A number of descriptive names (e.g. infant formula and milk formula) per category of age of introduction were used with some appearing across more than one category. Images of feeding bottles were found on most labels across all age categories, but prevalence decreased with older age categories. The majority of FUF/GUM manufactured by IF companies across all sites displayed at least one example of cross-promotion with one or more of the company’s IF: two-thirds or more contained similar colour schemes/designs and similar brand names; 20–85% had similar slogans/mascots/symbols. A wide and potentially confusing range of ages/categories of introduction and descriptive names were found, and cross-promotion with IF was common on FUF/GUM labels. Global guidance from normative bodies forms the basis of most low and middle income countries policies and should provide specific guidance to prohibit cross-promotion between FUF/GUM and IF, and all three categories should be classified as breastmilk substitutes.

Authors: Catherine Pereira, Rosalyn Ford, Alison B. Feeley, Lara Sweet, Jane Badham and Elizabeth Zehner

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