In 2010-11 the APMAIF commenced work on a number of important areas of the application of the MAIF Agreement and its interpretations.

As discussed in the previous chapter issues, have arisen relating to internet based material. The APMAIF has worked with industry to ensure that a standard approach to internet based material is achieved. The APMAIF has undertaken a revision of the Complaints Handling Process to increase the fairness and transparency of its procedures. Along with this, the Panel has established a review of the Interpretation Guidelines to ensure there is a clear understanding of the intent and meaning of the clauses of the MAIF Agreement.

Panel Meetings

Meeting Date Complaints considered Other items discussed
74th 12 August 2010

3 carried over

2 new

  • Infant Nutrition Council's amended Samples Policy
  • Review of Interpretation Guidelines
  • Notification of product re-formulation
75th 18 November 2010

1 carried over

1 new

  • Review of Interpretation Guidelines
  • Wording of Step 3 of the Compaints Handling Process
  • Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015 - Stakeholder update
76th 17 February 2011 (half day) -
  • Electronic media marketing - industry wide action
77th 19 May 2011 (half day) 1 new
  • Review of Interpretation Guidelines
  • Electronic media marketing - industry wide action

Meetings with MAIF Agreement Signatories

Meeting Date Items discussed
Signatories meeting 18 November 2010
  • Review of Interpretation Guidelines
  • Step 3 of the Complaints Handling Process
  • Investigation of clauses in addition to those specified by the complainant

Review of Interpretation Guidelines

At its 74th meeting on 12 August 2010, the APMAIF conducted a preliminary review of past interpretations of the MAIF Agreement and agreed in principle that:
  • in accordance with the APMAIF’s third term of reference, the interpretations should be referred to as “guidelines on the interpretation of the MAIF Agreement” and should be expressed in guideline-style terminology;
  • there is a need to inform stakeholders about the nature and purpose of the Interpretation Guidelines; and
  • industry should be actively engaged on issues that arise during the process of reviewing the Interpretation Guidelines.
On 18 November 2010, the APMAIF met with representatives of all signatories to the MAIF Agreement, to agree on a way forward regarding the review. Participants agreed that the process should be led by the Panel but that industry participation was essential to the success of the review.

The APMAIF has commenced the process of updating and clarifying the Interpretation Guidelines, and is seeking industry feedback to ensure a common understanding of the intent and meaning of the clauses of the MAIF Agreement and associated Interpretation Guidelines. The revised guidelines will be reported in the 2011-12 Annual Report.

Appropriate distribution of free samples

APMAIF initiated a discussion with MAIF Agreement signatories about the operation of Clause 7(d)) of the MAIF concerning the provision of samples of infant formula to health care professionals. APMAIF wanted to understand the approach taken by industry and pharmacies in this area and ensure compliance with the agreement. Samples are provided to a pharmacy in response to a specific request from a pharmacist and, once receipt has been acknowledged, representatives of the manufacturers do not involve themselves in the processes followed by individual health professionals in pharmacies. It was agreed that it is nevertheless possible to encourage compliance with MAIF by making the governance process around the provision of samples to pharmacies more robust.

As a result of these discussions the Infant Nutrition Council updated its policy regarding the provision of free samples of infant formula to health professionals, and developed a new template for the “Infant Formula Sample Request Form” which all health professionals must use to request samples for professional evaluation. The new template includes a statement on the benefits of breastfeeding and quotes the aim of the MAIF Agreement in a prominent position. It also requires the requesting health professional to state his or her qualification as evidence that the samples are not being provided to any lay person, and to take individual responsibility for the appropriate use of the samples.

The INC’s revised Samples Policy can be viewed on the Infant Nutrition Council website at www.infantnutritioncouncil.com.