IBFAN is one of the longest-surviving single-issue organisations, and it was founded on 12th October, 1979 after the joint meeting of WHO and UNICEF on Infant and Young Child Feeding. The groups that formed IBFAN were instrumental in putting the aggressive and unethical marketing of baby foods on the public health agenda, resulting in the 1979 meeting that led to the drafting of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and the adoption of it by the World Health Assembly in 1981. 40 years on, promotional tactics have become more personable, more insidious, and in some ways, bolder than ever. The situations would have been worse had it not been organisations like IBFAN holding these companies in check through decades of hard work – by monitoring their marketing practices, shaming them when necessary, advocating for stronger measures at international level, and at the same time working with countries to help implement the International Code through national legislation.

Precursor of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes: Statement and recommendations developed from the 1979 Joint WHO/UNICEF Meeting on Infant and Young Child Feeding. After participating in that meeting, several NGOs decided to form IBFAN to continue to monitor marketing practices of baby food companies.

While there is much work that lies ahead, it is also important to reflect on the work that IBFAN has achieved and its vision and mission to protect the health of mothers, infants and young children. To celebrate IBFAN’s 40th anniversary, ICDC offers free soft copies of the “Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules” (the BTR) – a compilation of marketing practices from around the world that violate the International Code from 2014 to 2017. Collected from IBFAN’s regional and country groups and volunteers, it contains almost 800 legally-vetted entries on 28 companies from 79 countries.

Breaking the Rules 2017 is based on results of worldwide continuous monitoring.

The BTR will show how baby food companies pay lip service to the Code in public and claim to be staunch breastfeeding supporters, but their violations prove otherwise. This will be a useful advocacy tool to:


  • Name and shame companies and hold them accountable for better marketing behaviour
  • Advocate for better health governance
  • Detect legal or regulatory loopholes as basis for amendments or new laws
  • Help make appropriate policy decisions
  • Inform international agencies and NGOs on nutrition programme-planning
  • Provide objective evaluation on ethical investments and company compliance and self-monitoring initiatives
  • Promote civic governance by raising awareness on community level
  • Support ongoing Code advocacy and breastfeeding protection work


How to get a free copy? 

Write to us at [email protected] with the subject line Request for free BTR e-copy with the following information:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Profession
  • Affiliated organisation/group
  • Reasons why you would like to obtain a copy and how you intend to use it (please keep it brief)


Note: This offer is valid only to friends and supporters of IBFAN-ICDC. Manufacturers and distributors and individuals or entities affiliated to them are not eligible for this offer.