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Tinned food is as dangerous as cigarettes: expert

Jul 31, 2013

Baby food giants Heinz, Nestle and Abbott have been blatantly violating the IMS Act, said Dr Arun Gupta, central coordinator, Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI).

For those who think that packed food is a healthy option, here is an eye opener. According to Dr Arun Gupta, central coordinator, Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), baby food supplements are as dangerous as cigarettes.

He highlighted that the Infant Milk Substitutes (IMS) Act, bans all kinds of promotion for 0-2 years of age of baby foods and feeding bottles, including advertisements, inducements on sales, pecuniary benefits to doctors or their associations including sponsorship, commission to salesmen, and prescribes labeling requirements.

But still several bottle manufacturers and baby food giants like Heinz, Nestle, Abbott, Pigeon, Farlin, Winnie-the-Pooh, Morrison and Baby Dreams etc have been selling bottles and cereal foods on discount on e-marketing websites and it is a clear violation of the IMS Act.

For instance, Heinz, a multinational firm, is wooing mothers to give its cereal food “Oat and Apple” at ‘4+ months’ through the label on the container and various websites. Not just that, it also offers free ‘gifts’, ‘discounts’ and even loyalty schemes to mothers for using the website, which is also banned under the law which is not only illegal but unscientific.

Notably, Nestle is facing three court cases for violating the IMS Act.

According to Regional Advisor of Nutrition WHO (SEARO), Dr Kunal Bagchi babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. “Introducing cereal foods to a child before 6 months of age displaces mother’s milk and can lead to serious health risks including diarrhea,” Bagchi explains.

Artificial feeding is an established risk factor for child health. It can cause diarrhoea, respiratory or newborn infections, allergies as well as obesity and adult health diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

There have been evidence of mother’s not producing enough milk due to the lack of some hormones.

Dr Arun Gupta added that 70 per cent of children are breastfed in the first month when they are born whereas only 20% children are breastfed after six months.

Gupta clarified that India does not need any modifications in its laws, but what is required is enforcement and monitoring of the existing laws. “There are no lactation consultants available in India to council pregnant women whereas in countries like Sweden, Norway and Vietnam lactation consultants are available,” he stated.

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