What’s behind a formula tin label

Before I get started, let me just reiterate that breast is best. We all already know this, but as I always say, there are many reasons for formula feeding and this post is not going to be covering the debates around this. What this article covers is educating mothers on Formula Feeding Legislation and the label guidelines around this.

What's behind a formula tin label by BabyYumYumHow many of you have noticed in the last year or so that you are looking for your formula of choice on the shelf, only to find that the packaging has changed and the well trusted product you once purchased in a blink of an eye, since you know that your baby is taking to it, the tin now looks different? Why does this product no longer contain the certain nutrients as it did before, and why did the manufacturers change the formula, if it worked so well? These are common questions many mommies cry out in the baby aisles of retail outlets these days as it’s due to an introduction of a piece of legislation called R991.  The R991 poses restrictions on the promotion of formula to the public. We will be discussing these restrictions in a separate post, which is guaranteed to have readers foaming at the mouth, so brace yourself for that one.

What I wanted to cover today though, is the labeling guidelines and regulations governing what and how information is put onto formula tins.

This topic was brought about when a close friend of mine was discussing her baby’s reflux with me. I suggested an AR formula that I used, such as NAN AR or Novalac AR to assist with the problem, to which her response was “no, I will not use that because on the tin it says THIS PRODUCT IS NOT STERILE”. So I hauled out my collection of formula tins of various brands to show her that EVERY single tin bears the same words on the front due to legislation. This was just one case of misunderstanding which was resolved there and then and after which, she had a happy baby. Many other mothers may also have the same miscommunication or perception resulting in the mommy not having a solution for their baby.

So here is a list of a few important things that has to be on all formula tins and is not just limited to certain brands:

  • There may be no graphic representation on tins, meaning you cannot show a real picture of a bottle made up with formula.
  • The tin does however need to display representations of the correct method of preparing, cleaning and using the product.
  • The label needs to provide proper instruction on sterilisation of equipment, utensils and instructions on preparation.
  • Indicate that safe previously boiled drinking water should be used.
  • Indicate that only the enclosed scoop should be used.
  • Indicate the feeding chart.
  • Indicate that the infant must be kept upright whilst feeding.
  • Instructions for discarding left over feed must be visible.
  • Company brand names or logos can be used as long as they are not “humanised”. This meaning that there is no image of a human (animated or real) or humanised animals (such as an animal drinking from a sippy cup for instance).
  • Company logo, brand name and logos indicating endorsement by specific religious certifying organizations are permitted.
  • The label needs to have the name, address, customer care telephone number of the manufacturer, importer or seller.
  • There are parameters with regards to the size and type of font to be used and wording used.
  • The words “THIS PRODUCT SHALL ONLY BE USED ON THE ADVICE OF A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL” and “USE UNDER MEDICAL SUPERVISION” shall appear on the front main panel of the label. The latter is especially necessary for products that are for special dietary management for infants with special medical conditions.
  • The statements “does not contain breast milk” and “breast milk is the best food for babies” must appear on the top of the front panel.
  • Clear labeling in bold needs to be at the bottom of the front main panel with the following messages: this product should only be used on the advice of a health care professional and this product is not always sterile. It must be prepared and used appropriately.
  • Labels of infant formula must contain at least one of the following health messages:
    • Infant formula increases an infant’s risk of allergy.
    • Infant formula increases an infant’s risk of ear infections,
    • Infant formula increases an infant’s risk of acute respiratory diseases.
    • Infant formula increases an infant’s risk of gastrointestinal infections.
  • Any words promoting that formula is suitable for infants such as “first growth”, “first food”, “from the start” and “best start in life” are prohibited.
  • The age range must be specified that the formula is suitable for.
  • The tin needs to have on it certain mandatory nutritional information.
  • No health, medicinal or nutritional claims shall be permitted.
  • Certain messages need to be repeated on the label or on a package insert, in at least 5 other official languages.

For much more detailed information and lots more confusing regulations for every day moms and formula users, you can look at The Regulations Relating to Foodstuffs for Infants and Young Children (R991).

Has this article helped clear up any misunderstanding you had on formula? As moms we need to be there to help each other, and if you know of any other moms also struggling to interpret all the confusing wording and legislation out there on feeding, please share this article with them. What do you think of the R991 legislation?

Click the image to download our free resource for a comprehensive guide to understanding the terminology of formula.

Disclaimer: This post is based on personal experience and personal brand preference of the content author and has in no way been paid for or sponsored. BabyYumYum reserves the right to its opinions and fully supports the notion of promotion that breast is best in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) infant feeding guidelines http://www.who.int/topics/infant_nutrition/en/ Breast milk is the best food for infants. Good maternal nutrition is essential to prepare and maintain breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not applied, an infant formula may be used according to health professionals’ advice. Preparation and storage of any infant formula should be performed as directed on the tin in order not to pose any health hazards.