The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes

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The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (the Code) is an international health policy framework to regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes in order to protect breastfeeding.

In view of the vulnerability of babies in the early months of life and the risks involved in inappropriate feeding practices, the marketing of breastmilk substitutes requires special treatment (see our research section on formula marketing).

Following years of growing concern about the aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes, the Code was adopted in May 1981 at the 34th World Health Assembly meeting to protect and encourage breastfeeding and to control inappropriate marketing practices to sell products for formula feeding (for an insight into formula industry marketing practices see this video).

Baby Friendly accreditation requires services to implement the requirements of the Code (which goes further than UK law in regulating marketing activity).

In order to meet Baby Friendly standards, services must ensure that there is no promotion of breastmilk substitutes, bottles, teats or dummies in any part of the facility or by any of the staff.

You will know that the service has met this standard when:

  • A written statement signed by the head of service confirms that the facility is committed to implementing this standard.
  • There is no advertising in the facility or by any of the staff.
  • There are systems in place to monitor compliance with this standard.

Our guide to working within the Code has full guidance to ensure your services meets the required standards

Further reading

This guide supports health professionals to adhere to the Code

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