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Withdrawn Soy Baby Milk Still On Shelves

A brand of soy baby formula is still being sold in supermarkets despite an agreement over six weeks ago to pull it off the shelves amidst claims of misleading advertising.

Manufacturers of the Isomil soy formula, Abbot Laboratories Ltd, agreed to voluntarily withdraw the product from all over New Zealand after an investigation by the Commerce Commission into claims that the label was misleading and breached the Fair Trading Act 1986.

Banners on the label read '1st choice of doctors' and continue 'for common feeding problems such as fussiness, gas and spit-up'.

But Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today member of her staff bought a can of Isomil from a Wellington supermarket last week, despite notification on 2nd November that the product would be withdrawn.

"I'm upset that parents might still be buying the soy formula thinking it was recommended by doctors for all babies, despite a settlement with the Commerce Commission based on a voluntary withdrawal.

"For that settlement to have any credibility, the withdrawal should have happened immediately. I will be following up to see whose responsibility it is to make sure that voluntary withdrawals do go ahead."

Ms Fitzsimons said some researchers are concerned about the high levels of phytoestrogens in soy formula, which may affect hormonal development and resulting sexual maturation in both boys and girls.

"It is also likely that this imported formula would include genetically engineered soy beans, which have not been tested for long-term allergenicity. It particuarly concerns me that this product is being fed to babies who are more at risk of developing allergies further down the track than older people."

The Ministry of Health advised in 1998 that parents should feed babies soy formula only under doctor's advice, and that breast milk and dairy-based formula were preferable. The Ministry also warned that research suggested soy milk might affect children with thyroid problems.

Jeanette will be asking Question 11 on this issue today


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