Baby Formula, Inc.

By Krista Gray, IBCLC. Last updated July 28, 2017.



The World Health Organization lists artificial baby formula as the fourth best option for feeding babies.  Breastfeeding, mother’s expressed milk, and donor milk should all be considered for feeding babies before formula.  Formula is necessary, however, because human milk banks don’t always have enough milk to meet demand.

The formula industry is a $25 billion dollar business.  Their competition, breast milk, is both superior and free.  There are regulations in place that formula companies are to follow in the marketing, education, and sales of their products but, many times, these international codes are violated.  This International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes exists to regulate how formula manufacturers promote sales of breast milk substitutes.  However, this code is not legally binding and relies upon individual governments to enforce fair and honest marketing practices.  Formula companies should adhere to internationally-endorsed ethical marketing practices.  In reality, many companies disregard these standards, or look for loopholes, in favor of entering new markets and making bigger profits.

The Code states that formula companies should not advertise or promote formula in any way; they should never distribute free samples; warnings should be on all labels, in the local language, indicating the superiority of breast milk and warnings of health complications with formula; formula company employees should not have contact with pregnant moms or mothers of young children (such as through online baby clubs); and no pictures of children, nor pictures or text that idealize formula, should be on packaging.

There are many formula companies who are not in compliance with this marketing code for breast milk! Not only is formula lacking in essential nutrients to grow healthy children, it poses a significant financial cost to families.  Once a mother has chosen to give formula, her milk supply begins to decline.  Weeks or months later when they realize they don’t have the money to purchase formula, or their baby doesn’t tolerate formula well, re-lactation is challenging at best.

Imagine the worldwide breastfeeding statistics if $25 billion could be spent to support and promote breast milk.  Rather than having formula companies undermine the greatest super food for babies, infants worldwide would be given the best chance at life and health.