The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the advertising and sales promotion of infant formula meant for babies under the age of one in an effort to boost breastfeeding.
According to Division of Planning and Research Development section head Huang Wei-sheng (黃維生), the new regulation was promulgated on Monday and is due to take effect on Jan. 1 next year.
“The ban prohibits producers and vendors of baby formula designed for infants less than a year old from airing advertisements and offering any discounts to boost sales. Violators would be subject to a fine ranging from between NT$40,000 and NT$4 million [US$1,290 and US$129,000],” Huang said.
Prior to the ban, the government set up a similar guideline in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes adopted by the WHO in 1981 to promote breastfeeding, Huang said.
“As the guideline is not legally binding, the administration decided to introduce the ban after the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法) was revised last year to provide a legal basis for such a regulation,” Huang said.
However, the new policy has sparked criticism online.
A netizen using the pseudonym “kelonchen” said the new policy is additional proof that the government moves against the tide of public opinion.
“What if the mother does not have enough breast milk? Is it better for her to starve her child than to use baby milk formula?” kelonchen added.
Taipei Association for the Promotion of Women’s Rights standing director Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) said the policy could put further pressure on new mothers who are already troubled by a lack of breast-milk production.
“The FDA should devote more of its energy to improving food safety and safeguarding the quality of baby formula, rather than forcing new mothers or mothers-to-be to breastfeed their babies by introducing a ban,” Chien said.
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