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The Ministry of Agriculture’s declaration that the Heitiki infant formula products are safe has been welcomed by the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council (FGC).
“We commend MAF for working so swiftly on this investigation demonstrating once again the strength and rigour of New Zealand’s food safety system, says Katherine Rich, CEO of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council.
“We also welcome Kiaora’s decision to remove its website and change its packaging text. Both contained questionable marketing claims, which originally sparked our concern.
“FGC was concerned by the company’s apparent disregard for New Zealand's infant formula marketing codes, and the way its products were promoted on both the website and in an advertising campaign in a national newspaper.
“All other New Zealand infant formula companies abide by our country’s voluntary Code of Practice for the Marketing of Infant Formula.
“The code restricts advertising infant formula directly to the New Zealand public and requires companies to clearly state the superiority and benefits of breast milk for babies, so that breastfeeding is not undermined.
“This code is part of New Zealand's response to the World Health Organization International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, which prescribes how infant formula should be marketed.
“FGC endorses the excellent work of its sister organisation the Infant Nutrition Council (INC). It’s worth noting that all major producers and marketers of infant formula in New Zealand and Australia are members of the INC.
"Members of INC and FGC work very hard to ensure that they market their products strictly in line with INC’s code.
"We respectfully suggest that if Kiaora wants to build a reputation as a responsible New Zealand infant formula company, it would be a smart move to adhere to New Zealand’s marketing code for infant formula.
"Failure to do so will continue to court controversy and public comment, given that infant formula can be such a sensitive product", Mrs Rich said.