ICDC Exposes on Code Violations in Cambodia & Myanmar

As a result of monitoring submitted by ICDC voluntary monitors, ICDC was able to blow the whistle against blatant violations of the Cambodian Law which gives effect to the Code but remains largely unenforced.  The two  articles reported by the Phnom Penh Post “Watchdog calls out firm for marketing formula and Dairyreporter.com WHO alerted to potential NZ infant formula promotion breach in Cambodia highlight how promotion practices by Bibere violate the International Code and the Cambodian Law (Sub-Decree on Marketing of Products for Infants and Young Child Feeding, also known as Sub-Decree 133).

ICDC obtained evidence that shows Bibere was giving out samples of infant formula and follow up milk to expectant mothers in public area, as well as at healthcare facilities.

Bibere baby food products are owned by Export New Zealand, and distributed by Nutrilatt Master in Cambodia. When confronted by the press about these violations, the Director of Export New Zealand claimed to have no knowledge of the violations, while the local distributor apologised. We find it unacceptable that Export New Zealand claims ignorance of the violations as they are required by the Code to ensure that their marketing practices at all levels conform to the Code. ICDC has also shared its concerns with the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific and the country office and UNICEF. In its statement to the press, the WHO Cambodia office said they have been working with the Cambodian Ministry of Health and other partners to “strengthen enforcement” of Sub-Decree 133.  We have been informed that the local distributors have been summoned for a meeting by Cambodian regulators and are hopeful that violations will be kept in check in future.

In another development, ICDC was able to highlight Code violations in Myanmar. In the article Big-name milk formula brands continue to flout Myanmar law, the Myanmar Times elaborated on how some of the world’s largest infant formula companies such as Nestle, Abbott, Wyeth and Dumex continue to defy the International Code and the Myanmar Order of Marketing of Formulated Food for Infant and Young Child, adopted in 2014. According to international NGO Save the Children, these companies continue to supply products with incorrect labelling in Myanmar, a country with a historically strong breastfeeding culture that is experiencing a decrease in exclusive breastfeeding rates. Representative from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that many distributors reported difficulties negotiating with the manufacturers on the existing incorrectly-labelled stock that is still in circulation. The FDA is going to collect necessary data on the products before enforcing any penalty.A workshop is also planned to be held with the Ministry of Commerce, the FDA, the Ministry of Public Health and distributors to discuss penalties for companies who continued to violate the regulations.