Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement

Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement 1992 (MAIF Agreement)

Page last updated: 29 April 2020

The MAIF Agreement has operated since 1992, as a voluntary, self-regulatory, code of conduct between the manufacturers and importers of infant formula in Australia. It is Australia’s response to the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes 1981(WHO Code). The MAIF Agreement applies to those Australian manufacturers and importers of infant formula who are signatories to the MAIF Agreement.

The MAIF Agreement aims to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by protecting and promoting breastfeeding and by ensuring the proper use of breast milk substitutes, when they are necessary, on the basis of adequate information through appropriate marketing and distribution.

Current signatories to the MAIF Agreement include:

  • Abbott Australasia Pty Ltd
  • Aspen Nutritionals Australia Pty Ltd
  • Australian Dairy Park Pty Ltd
  • Bayer Australia Ltd
  • Bellamy’s Organic
  • Freedom Foods Group Trading Pty Ltd
  • H & H Group
  • The Infant Food Co. Pty Limited
  • The LittleOak Company
  • Nature One Dairy Pty Ltd
  • Nestlé Australia Ltd
  • Nuchev Pty Ltd
  • Nutricia Australia Pty Ltd
  • Saputo Dairy Australia Pty Ltd
  • The a2 Milk Company Ltd
  • Wattle Health Australia Limited
  • Reckitt Benckiser Group

The complaint process

Individuals, members of industry, community and consumer groups are able to lodge a complaint with the Department of Health alleging a breach of the MAIF Agreement.

Complaints should be submitted to the Department of Health on the Complaint Form.

The MAIF Complaints Committee (the Committee) considers the complaints received and is responsible for making determinations on potential breaches of the MAIF Agreement. The Committee was established in 2018 and is managed by the Department of Health. The Committee is comprised of three members: an independent representative; an industry representative; and a public health representative.

The MAIF Complaints Committee has resolved to undertake a review of the guidance documents for the interpretation of the MAIF Agreement.

Outcomes of complaints resolved in 2019-2020

Complaints resolved in the 2019-2020 financial year are shown in the table below.

Complaint MAIF Complaints Committee final determination
1819-17 Aspen Nutritionals Complaint: A complaint received on 17 June 2019 against Aspen Nutritionals, alleged Instagram social media influencer activity in relation to S26 alula infant formula was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement. Aspen Nutritionals stated that the social media posts were created without its knowledge and that Aspen Nutritionals had no involvement in these activities or any association with the Instagram account holders. Upon learning of the inappropriate posts, Aspen Nutritionals updated its Instagram account settings so that only an approved post can tag its official account page.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 October 2019 determined no breach of clause 5 (a) of the MAIF Agreement.
1920-01 Deloraine – Bubs Australia (Infant Food Company) Complaint: A complaint received on 8 July 2019 against Deloraine, alleged a billboard advertisement of Deloraine infant formula at Melbourne Airport was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement. Bubs Australia (under the Infant Food Company) informed the Committee that it acquired Deloraine in April 2019 and was not aware of the Deloraine billboard advertisement. The advertisement was the legacy of Deloraine, and at the time the billboard was put up Deloraine was not a signatory to the MAIF Agreement. Bubs Australia agreed to remove the billboard advertisement immediately.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 October 2019, determined no breach of clause 5 (a) of the MAIF Agreement.
1920-02 My Chemist Complaint: A complaint received on 25 July 2019 alleged a My Chemist pamphlet with a price promotion of S26 infant formula was a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

Determination: On 28 July 2019, the MAIF Complaints Committee determined that the complaint was out of scope of the MAIF Agreement as the complaint was in relation to retailer marketing activity.
1920-03 Coles Complaint: A complaint received on 5 August 2019 alleged a Coles television advertisement advertising infant formula was a breach of the MAIF Agreement.

Determination: On 6 August 2019, the MAIF Complaints Committee determined that the complaint was out of scope of the MAIF Agreement as the complaint was in relation to retailer marketing activity.
1920 – 04 Nature One Dairy Complaint: A complaint received on 18 August 2019 against Nature One Dairy, alleged toddler milk marketing material in the form of an information leaflet in a Priceline Pharmacy retail store was a breach of clause 4(a), 4(b) and 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement. The complaint considered the appearance and positioning of the infant suggests an infant under 12 months, and the slogan “your child’s most natural start to life” suggests bottle feeding is superior to breastfeeding.

Determination: At its meeting on 27 February 2020, the MAIF Complaints Committee determined that the Nature One toddler milk is marketing infant formula and is a breach of clause 5(a) of the of the MAIF Agreement on the following grounds: the slogan and other information on the pamphlet refers to infants “give your little ones an amazing start to life”, “our infant formula is certified by” and “bringing Nature One Dairy Organic Infant Formula Milk at its purest”. The Committee also noted that the use of the image of an infant, clearly not over 12 months of age for a toddler milk product could be considered misleading advertising. The Committee did not record a breach in relation to 4(a) and 4(b) of the MAIF Agreement
1920-05 Nestlé - Hunter Postgraduate Medical Institute Complaint: A complaint received on 23 September 2019 alleged an advertisement on a Hunter Postgraduate Medical Institute seminar titled “Fed is Best” and sponsored by Nestlé was a breach of the MAIF Agreement. The complainant considered the workshop was biased and questioned whether there was sufficient representation from a breastfeeding expert. The MAIF Complaint Committee members agreed that whilst Nestlé was a sponsor, there was no advertisement of infant formula.

Determination: At its meeting on 11 October 2019, the MAIF Complaints Committee determined the complaint was out-of-scope of the MAIF Agreement.
1920 – 06 Infant Food Company Complaint: A complaint received on 28 November 2019 against The Infant Food Company, alleged infant formula marketing material in the form of product images displaying images of the Bubs Organic products, including the progression of the products, on the website was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

Determination: At its meeting on 27 February 2020, the MAIF Complaints Committee determined that the complaint was not a breach of the MAIF Agreement. The webpage and pack shot images can only be accessed after the appropriate disclaimer has been accepted by the user.
1920 – 07 LittleOak Company Complaint: A complaint received on 14 January 2020 against The Little Oak Company, alleged various infant formula social media marketing material including ‘pop up’ retail stores was a potential breach of clauses 4(b); 5(a) and 5(c) of the MAIF Agreement.

Determination: At its meeting on 27 February 2020, the MAIF Complaints Committee determined that the complaint was out of scope of the MAIF Agreement, as the company was not a signatory to the MAIF Agreement at that time.

The outcome of complaints resolved in previous financial years are detailed in the Annual Reports below.

Background

The MAIF Agreement came into effect in 1992. Prior to 2014, the MAIF complaints process was managed by the Department of Health’s Advisory Panel on the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (APMAIF). From 2014 to 2017 the MAIF complaints process was managed by an Independent Tribunal, overseen by the Ethics Centre. An independent review of the MAIF complaints handling process was conducted in 2017. Following the review, the Department of Health assumed overarching responsibility for the handling of complaints received in relation to the MAIF Agreement.

Links to Related Documents

Links to Historical Documents

Annual Reports

Contact details

MAIF Complaints Committee Secretariat
Food & Nutrition Policy Section
Department of Health
MDP 707 GPO Box 9848
Canberra ACT 2601
Email: [email protected]