Without regulation of nutrition claims, all brands of infant formula are blowing their own trumpets
The Hong Kong Government is conducting a 2-month public consultation in preparation for two items of upcoming legislation. Next year will probably see the regulation of the composition and the introduction of nutrition labelling of formula milk and foods intended for infants and toddlers under the age of 3. On marketing tactics as well as exaggerated and misleading health claims, the Government intends to first formulate a voluntary guideline for the industry, since the issues are complicated and numerous parties are involved. The effectiveness of industry self-discipline will be monitored before a decision is made on whether legislations in these regards are needed.
The infant formula and food market has huge business potential and is highly profitable. In order that their children can absorb more nutrition and grow up healthily, parents spare no expense in buying products. To cater to parents' likes, the industry comes up with multifarious marketing tactics and claims, such as alleging that the product contains special nutrients which can help to "develop the brain", "soften baby poo" and "enhance resistance to diseases". In fact, many of these health claims are not supported by scientific proof, and certain products do not even reach the standards set out by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
There is already a consensus in society on the urgent need of regulation on infant formulae and foods. The Government should not drag its feet lest the progress of legislation be hampered. It should adopt the principle of "do easy things first" and separate the regulation of nutritional composition from that of marketing tactics. Once nutrition labels are legislated requirements, the industry must sell products that comply with them. Then parents can be certain on the quality of the infant formulae and foods they buy. Regulating marketing tactics or banning advertisements may infringe the public's right to know and hinder consumers from making an informed choice. The Government must strike a balance when it deals with the issue as an across-the-board prohibition is inappropriate.
blow one's own trumpet 自我吹噓
cater to somebody's likes 投其所好
right to know 知情權