2010 - 2011 Annual Report of the Advisory Panel on the marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (APMAIF)

Appendix C - APMAIF Complaints Handling Process

Page last updated: 21 November 2011

The APMAIF, in keeping with its terms of reference, receives and investigates complaints regarding the marketing in Australia of infant formula.

All complaints received are registered by the APMAIF Secretariat. The complaints register and complaint statistics are provided at each APMAIF meeting for the panel’s review.

Complaints Classification

Complaints are classified as within or outside the scope of the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement (MAIF Agreement) by the APMAIF Secretariat.

The Secretariat may refer a complaint to an appropriate agency if a complaint is considered within its jurisdiction, for example to:
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)
  • State/Territory Food Regulatory Authorities
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
  • Department of Health and Ageing – Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

Complaints that are considered outside the scope of the MAIF Agreement

Complaints considered outside the scope of the MAIF Agreement may include the following (but not limited to):
  • an Infant Formula Manufacturer or Importer (Company) that is not a current signatory to the MAIF Agreement or was not a signatory at the time the complaint was made;
  • some retailer activity (e.g. price promotions in retail catalogues);
  • infant merchandise (e.g. infant feeding bottles, teats, dummies, etc); and/or
  • infant foods, including milk products formulated for children over 12 months of age.
A complaint may require further investigation before it can be determined as outside the scope of the MAIF Agreement.

The Secretariat advises the complainant in writing that their complaint is outside the scope of the MAIF Agreement and the reason/s for this classification.

Complaints that are considered within the scope of the MAIF Agreement

Complaints considered within the scope or where it is not certain that they are within the scope of the MAIF Agreement are handled as follows:

1. Investigation of the complaint by the APMAIF Secretariat

The Secretariat:

a) advises the Company that a complaint has been received by the APMAIF alleging a breach of the MAIF Agreement. The relevant clause of the MAIF Agreement and a copy of the original complaint (identity of the complainant is withheld) are provided to the Company;
b) invites the Company to provide a response for consideration by the APMAIF; and
c) may seek expert advice where appropriate.
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2. Complaint and supporting documentation considered

All complaints that are within the scope of the MAIF Agreement are considered by the APMAIF. All available information concerning the complaint is provided to the APMAIF before its meeting. At the meeting, the APMAIF considers each complaint and makes a finding that the complaint:

a) does not reveal a breach of the MAIF Agreement – the APMAIF determines that the conduct to which the complaint relates is not a breach of the MAIF Agreement based on the evidence at hand.

Complaints found not to reveal a breach are classified as ‘closed’ and both the Company and the complainant are informed of the APMAIF’s decision in writing and the reasons for the decision.

or

b) requires further consideration – the APMAIF has insufficient information to determine that there has been no breach. The complaint is carried over to the next APMAIF meeting pending further investigation and consideration of the response received from the relevant Company.

3. Company informed that there is insufficient information to determine that there has been no breach and invited to respond

For complaints where there is insufficient information to determine that there has been no breach of the MAIF Agreement, the APMAIF:

a) advises the Company that the complaint has been considered and, based on the evidence at hand, there is insufficient information to determine that there has been no breach of the MAIF Agreement;
b) provides the Company with a written explanation of any preliminary view that APMAIF has reached together with the evidence or other material upon which that view has been reached; and
c) invites the Company to respond within 21 days with any further relevant information which is in addition to that provided at paragraph 1 and considered at paragraph 2.

4. APMAIF’s Final consideration

The APMAIF considers any additional relevant information provided by the Company and makes a final decision:

a) the APMAIF makes a decision that the conduct that is the subject of the complaint is ‘In Breach’ of the MAIF Agreement based on the evidence at hand.

or

b) the APMAIF makes a decision that the conduct that is the subject of the complaint is ‘Not in Breach’ of the MAIF Agreement based on the evidence at hand.
Complaints about conduct found to be ‘Not in Breach’ are classified as ‘closed’ and both the company and the complainant are informed of the APMAIF’s decision in writing and the reasons for the decision.

5. Notification of an ‘In Breach’ Decision

Following an ‘In Breach’ decision by the APMAIF:

a) the Company is advised that the APMAIF has determined the conduct that is the subject of the complaint to be ‘In Breach’ of the MAIF Agreement and provides the reasons for this decision;
b) the Complainant is advised of the outcome and the reason/s for this decision;
c) the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing is advised that the APMAIF has determined conduct considered by APMAIF as a result of a complaint to be ‘In Breach’ of the MAIF Agreement and the reason/s for this decision; and
d) the ‘In Breach’ decision is recorded in the APMAIF Annual Report.