Infant formula advisory group scrapped


Amonst the 20 or so advisory committees being scrapped by the federal Abbott government is  the Advisory Panel on the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (APMAIF) – a move  detrimental to the protection of breastfeeding in Australia and of special concern to midwives and community and family health nurses.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) is writing formally to the federal Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, to ask for APMAIF to be reinstated. They are also seeking clarification on the Coalition’s commitment to the National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015 and to implementation of the full WHO Code and are asking the community to write to the Health Minister about this as well.

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What is the WHO Code?

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was developed by the World Health Organisation and is known as the WHO Code. It started in 1981 and Australia was one of the first signatories. The aim of the Code is to ‘contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by the protection and promotion of breastfeeding and by ensuring the proper use of breastmilk substitutes, when these are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution’.

What is MAIF?

The Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (MAIF) Agreement is Australia’s response to the WHO Code. It is a voluntary self-regulatory agreement between the formula manufacturers and importers who have signed the agreement and outlines how formula can and cannot be marketed. MAIF has a much narrower scope than the WHO Code. For example, it doesn’t cover bottles or teats, retailers or pharmacists and it only covers infant formula for babies under 12 months.

What is APMAIF?

APMAIF is the panel appointed by the government to oversee the MAIF Agreement. It monitors the marketing practices of formula companies in Australia and deals with complaints received about possible breaches.

The most pressing issue at the moment is that APMAIF needs to be reinstated – without it, even if MAIF remains, there is no-one monitoring what is happening with the marketing of infant formula in Australia.

A recent review commissioned by the Department of Health and Ageing recommended that oversight of infant formula company marketing was still needed to provide protection from unethical marketing practices by infant formula companies.

In monitoring the MAIF Agreement, APMAIF increases the accountability of formula companies and also protects women who use formula to feed their babies from unethical marketing practices.

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Please support all mothers and babies by writing to the Health Minister Peter Dutton asking him to reinstate APMAIF.

The Hon Peter Dutton MP,

Suite MG-46, Parliament House,

Canberra ACT 2600

Or email:

More information can be found here.


  1. I think we are going to see a real slash and burn of healthcare funding streams under the current government. I work with remote Aboriginal communities in Qld these days in a consultancy role and note that since the election, five of these communities have had their community services funding completely stopped by DoH. So that’s five communities that have no one providing community aged care for around 50 aged Aboriginals, with no other service within 200km of each of them that could extend their services to them. I suspect we’ll see more.


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