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Govt to promote education on infant soy milk

13 March 2008 Media Statement

Govt to promote education on infant soy milk formula

The government will direct the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and Ministry of Health to proactively educate consumers on the possible risks of infants consuming soy-based infant formulas and the need to check with their doctor before using the product, Food Safety Minister Lianne Dalziel says.

Lianne Dalziel today presented Parliament with the government response to a report of the Health Select Committee on the use of soy-based infant formulas.

"There's no doubt 'breast is best' when it comes to infant nutrition. Breast milk is internationally recognised as the best food for infants. However, there is a very small number of women who can't breastfeed and either can't or don't want to use cows' milk-based infant formulas for medical reasons or because of their personal beliefs. We think that this very small group should have the choice to use soy-based products as long as they take medical advice first," Lianne Dalziel said.

"The Food Standards Code already requires that there be a statement on all infant formula advising that 'Breast milk is best for babies. Before you decide to use this product, consult your doctor or health worker for advice'. The government stands by this statement and doesn't think it necessary to reconsider the wording on the label," Lianne Dalziel said.

"The crucial information is that the advice of a GP or health worker should be sought before using any infant formula. To further emphasise this, the Labour-led government is going to take targeted steps to proactively educate the public about any potential risk associated with soy-based infant formula."

Lianne Dalziel said this could include:
- reviewing the information about soy-based infant formulas on both the NZFSA and MoH websites so it is up-to-date and consistent;
- talking to industry about the possibility of voluntary labelling of phytoestrogen content on soy-based infant formulas;

- continuing to include information on these formulas in relevant MoH and NZFSA publications such as the Well Child Book and the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Infants and Toddlers (Aged 0-2); and
- including information for health professionals in professional journals and magazines.

"This will ensure parents are fully informed of the potential risks when making choices about what to feed their baby when breast milk is not an option," Lianne Dalziel said.

ENDS

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