Why does the Code exist?
The Code is an internationally agreed voluntary code of practice, designed to protect breastfeeding by preventing unscrupulous marketing and claims about breastmilk substitutes, including infant formulas, follow-on formulas and any other food or drink, together with feeding bottles and teats, intended for babies and young children.
The Code also sets standards for the labelling and quality of products and for how the law should be implemented and monitored within countries. It calls on governments "to ensure that monitoring the application of the International Code and subsequent relevant resolutions is carried out in a transparent, independent manner, free from commercial influence”.
Restricting marketing of breastmilk substitutes does not mean that the products cannot be sold, or that scientific and factual information about them cannot be made available. Neither does it restrict parent’s choice. It simply aims to make sure that their decisions are based on full, impartial information, rather than misleading, inaccurate or biased marketing claims.
The underlying rationale for the Code is that the health of babies is so important that the usual rules governing market competition and advertising should not apply to products intended for feeding babies. Therefore, all Governments should legislate to prevent commercial interests from disrupting breastfeeding and thereby harming the health of their populations.