Pernicious Anaemia Society
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Tesco, formula milk and the UK Food Safety Act

I was a bit alarmed to read this article in the Times today

so much so that I have sent the following email asking for clarification on exactly how the Food Safety Act means they need to treat baby formula in this way.

If anyone out there is aware of the relevant provision then I would be interested to know. I had a quick look but couldn't come up with anything obvious.

I have just read an article in the Times 12/11/16 'Mother 'shamed' by Tesco for buying formula milk which ends with the following statement:

Under the Food Safety Act "we cannot promote baby formula in any way, including offering a parking voucher."

I suffer - as do many others - from a condition that prevents me absorbing B12 from my food. B12 is a vitamin that is essential for the development of babies, children and the health of adults. Women who have this condition are often unable to pass B12 on to their children through breast milk and so need to use a formula to ensure that their babies receive sufficient B12.

Please could you clarify exactly what in the FSA prevents you from promoting baby formula in any way?

7 Replies

As an addendum

I'm not clear if there is any evidence that this would apply where there isn't a B12 deficiency actually present - not sure if there have been any studies that showed that adequate amounts of B12 were always transferred where the B12 absorption problem is being treated.

Does anyone have any links to specific studies relating to breastfeeding women who had been diagnosed with a B12 absorption problem.


Very worrying...Found this on google scholar...any use? Other articles there too...will have a trawl through and post if I see anything else.

Be very interested to hear what the response is.


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I don't know the exact details of th law but it is very clear that they can't discount baby formula or ever have it on offer. It can never be three for two, or 10% off. I think because the lady in question ONLY bought formula the till said she wasn't entitled to free parking, which could be viewed by the law to be an "offer". Personally I think it's horrendous. I was advised by the NHS to stop breastfeeding my son after ten days and it cost me £50 per month in formula for the first six months.

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Thanks - had a look at the legislation and although it contains provisions that mean they can't do anything that implies formula is 'equal to or superior to breast feeding' I wasn't so clear on the other restrictions.

May be like most legislation that it was drafted without really looking at the whole situation as it does seem to have a particular downer on use of formula although it's quite clear that not everyone can breast feed so the provisions do seem to be being interpreted in such a way that they are causing inequalities. Not sure when it is up for review but ...

Really sorry that the system is so stupid that you found yourself having to shell out for a necessity for your son in that way.


Taken to the ultimate, they would refuse to allow use of the toilets (provided for customers - not random passing public) on the same grounds.

And what an interesting situation if the mother were disabled...


This sounds wrong to me. I had to stop breastfeeding my youngest son on the advice from my GP. I had developed an abscess in my breast. There must be many young mothers for whom breastfeeding is no longer a conscious choice. Surely this is a form of discrimination?


There are also other cases where babies need formula. My granddaughter was born at just under 28 weeks. Although she was tube fed expressed breast milk she had formula added to give a boost. It was something to do with calories used in digesting food. She then went on to a tiny bottle with the same mix, all while in NICU, breast feeding was too much effort for her underdeveloped muscles. She had a mix of breast and formula for several months.


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