08 APR 2011
By Martin Banks | The Parliament
MEPs have given a mixed reaction after parliament voted to allow the producers of infant formula milk to claim that it is as healthy for babies as breast feeding.
This is despite fears from the World Health Organisation and the royal college of paediatrics and child health in the UK that such advice could mislead mothers.
A vote in the European parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday failed by eight votes to garner enough support to prevent a claim that formula milk can improve a baby's eyesight.
EU food regulators have ruled that the formula milk manufacturer Mead Johnson is permitted to claim that an omega fatty acid, DHA, added to formula milk "contributed to the visual development of infants up to 12 months of age".
Julie Girling, a UK Conservative MEP, defended the right of manufacturers to make such claims.
Willmott, a Socialist deputy, said, "We have to be extra careful about ensuring they are not misled."
Her comments were partly echoed by UK Independence Party MEP Paul Nuttall, who said, "UKIP voted against the commission proposal and in favour of the motion of resolution.
"This was to prevent pharmaceutical companies putting false health claims on formula milk.
"UKIP put child welfare first while others were acting as lobby fodder for large pharma conglomerates.
"Their action was shameful, and calls into question their cosy relationship companies who are always handy for a large donation."
Nuttall added, "This move to prevent false health claims was defeated by a mere eight votes. I am appalled that Tories would not only vote for the proposal in hand but also lobby on behalf of pharmaceutical companies."
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Child welfare not commercial interests must come first