The South African Government has recently embarked on an
exclusive breastfeeding strategy in South Africa. This strategy is
in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation,
which recommends that, in order to achieve optimal growth,
development and health, infants should be exclusively breastfed up
to the age of six months. From the age of six months, infants
should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods,
while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or
Against this background, many manufacturers of baby foods and
bottles (including infant formula, liquid milks, powdered milks,
complementary foods, feeding bottles, cups and teats) are required
to amend the packaging of their products to comply with recent
regulations that relate to the labelling of those goods. These
regulations are called the Regulations Relating to
Foodstuffs for Infants and Young Children (GN R991), and
were issued by the Department of Health.
In terms of the regulations, the containers and labels of infant
formula must contain the following statements:
"Does not contain breast milk"
"Breast milk is best for babies"
"This product shall only be used on the advice of a
All containers or labels of complementary foods, liquid milks
and powdered milks must state the following message:
"From 6 months of age, together with breast milk,
infants should be fed a variety of foods. Ask a health worker or
health professional for advice."
Furthermore, the labels of feeding bottles, feeding cups and
teats must include a statement on the superiority of breast milk
for feeding infants and should contain the following warning:
"If you are breastfeeding your baby, using a
feeding bottle and teat may interfere with the baby's natural
way of suckling your breast."
Phrases such as "Like Breastfeeding" on the label,
packaging or container of feeding bottles, feeding cups and teats
are prohibited. Furthermore, the labels or containers of those
products may not imply that they are manufactured in accordance
with the recommendation of a medical or dental practitioner.
No health, medicinal or nutrition claims may be made in relation
to any of the products mentioned above. This means that phrases
such as "Reduces Colic, Burping & Wind" or
"Helps Preserve Vitamins" are prohibited.
In addition, the regulations place strict restrictions on the
advertising and promotion of baby foods and bottles in South
Many industry players, including foreign manufacturers of baby
bottles and the like, are concerned by these stricter labelling
requirements and advertising restrictions in South Africa. That
being said, it appears that the South Africa Government firmly
believes that these regulations are in the public interest, and
will benefit the health of South African children for generations
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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