Women’s Health Action Trust
Media advisory 26 July 2006
Industry Self regulation exposed as a sham
Women’s Health Action Trust presents to the Health Select Committee obesity and Type 2 diabetes enquiry in Auckland
today and will use the opportunity to demonstrate the inadequacy and hypocrisy of industry self regulation in ensuring
compliance with the Code of Marketing of Breastmilk substitutes.
Women’s Health Action is one of the many organisations that believes that the first step in fighting the
obesity/diabetes epidemic is the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding.
Central to this is the Code and code compliance which has been compromised by industry in New Zealand. Firstly the
industry body (NZIFMA - NZ Infant Formula Marketers Association) rewrote the International Code to create a watered down
version for themselves. Recent evidence shows that even with a watered down version of the Code, they change their tune
depending on the audience.
An advertisement in the May edition of the Australian Women’s Weekly breached the Code. WHA raised this through the
official Ministry of Health channels and the response from the company included the following phrases:
‘We acknowledge the concerns raised.. and accept that the copy content should have focussed solely on………’
The company ‘ immediately withdrew the advertisement from all media schedules when concerns were raised…’
The company finishes by attributing the failure to properly pre-vet the ad to a key worker on ‘maternity leave.’
The company response to a consumer who complained directly to them was completely different in both tone and substance.
This time the company roundly defended the advertisement and finished with.
‘Please indicate which part of the advertorial you feel is deceptive and [the company] will respond accordingly.’
‘Industry self-regulation does not work and won’t ever work’ says WHA Breastfeeding advocate Louise James. ‘The industry
is always pushing the limits, and as we have seen here, will change it’s tune to suit the audience. This example is
typical and difficult to explain away as a misunderstanding as both sets of communications are signed by the same
‘We need to get it right at the start by enacting imaginative legislation to protect the right to breastfeed’ says