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ACCC to clamp down on infant formula advertising

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is looking to clamp down on the advertising of infant and toddler formula after a number of business’ potentially circumvented an agreement to limit infant formula advertising to protect rates of breastfeeding.

According to the ACCC, while many businesses have signed the ‘Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement’, some are advertising toddler formula as part of a ‘stage’ of products, with earlier stages implied to exist.

The commission is concerned as to whether this erodes the public benefit of the initial agreement.

“Restricting advertising of infant formula in this way does restrict competition to a degree, but there’s a clear public benefit to allowing that restriction, so long as it is effective in protecting breastfeeding rates”, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“However, if the industry is able to market in ways that ‘work around’ the restrictions, then the agreement will not be effective in what it’s intended to achieve.”

The commission is seeking submissions of evidence and information from the industry in order to determine the next steps of its draft determination, and acknowledges that while it’s not in the business of setting health policy, it will only grant exemptions to competition laws when there is a proven public benefit.

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