Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement

Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement 1992 (MAIF Agreement)

Page last updated: 01 June 2021

The MAIF Agreement has operated since 1992, as a voluntary, self-regulatory, code of conduct between the manufacturers and importers of infant formula in Australia. It is Australia’s response to the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes 1981(WHO Code). The MAIF Agreement applies to those Australian manufacturers and importers of infant formula who are signatories to the MAIF Agreement.

The MAIF Agreement aims to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by protecting and promoting breastfeeding and by ensuring the proper use of breast milk substitutes, when they are necessary, on the basis of adequate information through appropriate marketing and distribution.

Current signatories to the MAIF Agreement include:

  • Abbott Australasia Pty Ltd
  • Australian Dairy Park Pty Ltd
  • Bayer Australia Ltd
  • Bellamy’s Organic
  • H & H Group
  • The Infant Food Co. Pty Limited
  • The LittleOak Company
  • Nature One Dairy Pty Ltd
  • Nestlé Australia Ltd
  • Nuchev Limited
  • Nutricia Australia Pty Ltd
  • Sanulac Nutritionals Australia Pty Ltd
  • Spring Sheep Milk Co.
  • Sprout Organic
  • The a2 Milk Company Ltd
  • Wattle Health Australia Limited

The complaint process

Individuals, members of industry, community and consumer groups are able to lodge a complaint with the Department of Health alleging a breach of the MAIF Agreement.

Complaints should be submitted to the Department of Health on the Complaint Form.

The MAIF Complaints Committee (the Committee) considers the complaints received and is responsible for making determinations on potential breaches of the MAIF Agreement. The Committee was established in 2018 and is managed by the Department of Health. The Committee is comprised of three members: an independent representative; an industry representative; and a public health representative.

The MAIF Complaints Committee prepares guidance documents to support the interpretation of the MAIF Agreement.

Outcomes of complaints resolved in 2020-2021

Complaints resolved in the 2020-2021 financial year are shown in the table below.

Complaint MAIF Complaints Committee final determination
1920-09 - The LittleOak Company Complaint: A complaint received on 29 May 2020 against The LittleOak Company alleged activity relating to the company's social media page was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020 determined the activity, including an image of a child placed next to the 'stage 3' product container, in addition to the use of the words "baby formula" to be marketing activity directed to the general public, a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-01 - The Infant Food Co. Complaint: A complaint received on 1 July 2020 against The Infant Food Co alleged marketing activity relating to the company's Bubs Australia investor webpage was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement. The activity included an image of infant formula and follow-on formula, in addition to a promotional discount offer for Bubs products to investors of Bubs Australia, including Bubs infant formula and follow-on formula.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020 determined the activity involving an image of infant formula and follow-on formula products and the promotion of a discount to investors, on a publicly accessible website to be a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-04 - The LittleOak Company Complaint: A complaint received on 7 July 2020 against The LittleOak Company alleged activity relating to the company's social media page was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement. The activity included the words “baby”, “milk baby formula”, “Baby Formula” and “provide their babies the best start”.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020, determined the use of the words "baby", "milk baby formula", “Baby Formula” and “provide their babies the best start” in marketing activity directed to the general public to be a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-05 - Nestle Complaint: A complaint received on 8 July 2020 alleged marketing activity involving the announcement of a new Nestle infant formula product via email communication was a potential breach of clause 5(a) and clause 5(d).

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020, noted only consumers who had subscribed and voluntarily provide their information to receive communications from Nestlé, and the activity was consistent with the MAIF Complaints Committee’s interpretation of the MAIF Agreement related to electronic media marketing activity, the MAIF Complaints Committee determined no breach of clauses 5(a) and 5(d).

2021-06 - Nutricia Complaint: A complaint received on 8 July 2020 alleged breach of clause 5(a) marketing activity involving emails from Nutricia, with e-catalogues to purchase infant formula. The email from Nutricia was titled “Karicare Toddler Milk Drink” with the contents of the email containing an image of an infant formula product and a direct link to the Nutricia online store to purchase the infant formula product.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020, noted the email was sent to individuals who had previously provided consent to receive communication from Nutricia, and determined the email containing images of Karicare products, including infant formula, and links to the online store to purchase those products, was a breach of clause 5(a) the MAIF Complaints Committee.

2021-08 - The LittleOak Company Complaint: A complaint received on 15 July 2020 against The LittleOak Company alleged activity relating to the company's social media page was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement. The paid advertisement activity included an image of a child placed next to the 'stage 3' container, with the text referring to “baby formula”.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020 determined the use of the words "baby formula" alongside infant formula company branding is marketing activity directed to the general public to be a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-13 - Bubs Australia Complaint: A complaint received on 20 July 2020 against Bubs Australia, alleged activity related to listing the Bubs Organic range on the back of the label, including the infant formula 0-6 months on the label of a follow-on formula container was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 13 August 2020, noted the label provided acceptable and factual information to be and determined no breach of clause 5(a).

2021-20 - The LittleOak Company Complaint: A complaint received on 15 July 2020 against The LittleOak Company alleged activity relating to the company's social media page was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement. The activity included branding of The LittleOak Company, alongside text “baby formula” and "better for babies".

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020 determined the use of the words "baby formula" and "better for our babies" is marketing to the general public and a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-22 - Nutricia Complaint: A complaint received on 29 August 2020 against Nutricia, through the KaricareLine ANZ brand, alleged breach of clauses 4(a), 4(b) and 5(a) related to social media activity involving text and links to the ‘Karinourish’ webpage.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020 determined no breach of clause 4(a) as the webpage contains generic information for both breastfeeding and the proper use of formula feeding; no breach of clause 4(b) as the webpage contains generic feeding information for both breastfeeding and the health hazards of inappropriate foods or feeding methods; and no breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement as the social media advertisement and linking webpage does not refer to in formula products of brands.

2021-25 - Nutricia Complaint: A complaint received on 8 September 2020 alleged marketing by Nutricia of their Aptamil infant formula products following search terms on the Google search advertising serving platform was a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

Determination: At their meeting on 11 December 2020, the MAIF Complaints Committee determined the activity, featuring a pack shot of infant formula, price and link to purchase on the Danone Nutricia’s online store, is promoting infant formula to the general public and a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-28 - Nature One Dairy Complaint: Complaint received on 23 September 2020 alleged breach of clause 8(b) by Nature One Dairy concerning the engagement of a health professional to share parenting advice, through a number of social media posts.

Determination: At their meeting on 11 December 2020, the MAIF Complaints Committee determined the activity to be no breach of clause 8(b). The Committee agree the activity did not contain information about or refer to infant formula; and Nature One Dairy confirmed the health professional was not employed to market infant or follow-on formulas.

2021-29 - Nature One Dairy Complaint: Complaint received on 24 September 2020 alleged marketing of infant formula by Nature One Dairy on their social media page, was a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement. The complainant also raised concerns the child appeared to be younger than 12 months old. The activity included the text “Choose Nature One Dairy®” and “your baby’s development”.

Determination: At their meeting on 11 December 2020, the MAIF Complaints Committee determined the use of the words “your baby’s development” and “Choose Nature One Dairy” is marketing to the general public and a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-30 - Nature One Dairy Complaint: A complaint received on 30 September 2020 against Nature One Dairy alleged activity relating to the company's social media page and a sponsored advertisement was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement. The activity included an image of toddler milk container alongside the words “baby formula” and “choose the best for your little bubs”.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020, determined the use of the words “baby formula” and “choose the best for your little bubs” alongside branding of Nature One Dairy, to be marketing activity directed to the general public to be a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-35 - Nature One Dairy Complaint: A complaint received on 6 October 2020 against Nature One Dairy alleged activity relating to the company’s social media page and the use of the words “baby formula” in a sponsored advertisement was a potential breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020, determined the use of the words “baby formula” alongside branding of Nature One Dairy, to be marketing activity directed to the general public to be a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-38 - Bayer Australia Complaint: A complaint received on 6 October 2020 against Bayer Australia alleged marketing activity by Bayer Australia Limited on the www.gumtree.com.au search platform was a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement. The paid advertisement activity included various iteration of the banner with an image of a woman holding a young baby, and text relating to parenting issues, including diet.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020, noted the digital advertisement banner and the linking web page does not include or refer to infant formula products or brands and determined the activity to be no breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-49 - Nestle Complaint: A complaint received on 16 November 2020 against Nestle alleged the offer of dinner at a nutrition seminar for health professionals run by Nestle, is a breach of clause 7(c) of the MAIF Agreement. The invitation details the seminar, including a presentation on ‘Infant Formula Basics’.

Determination: The MAIF Complaints Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020, discussed the complaint noting the information about the event was distributed to healthcare professionals and the event was for health professionals only (clause 6(a) of the MAIF Agreement allows for the dissemination of information to health care professionals), determining no breach of clause 7(c) of the MAIF Agreement.

Out of scope complaints

In 2020-21, the MAIF Complaints Committee has determined 35 complaints as out of scope:

  • 13 related to non-signatory activity;
  • 3 related retailer activity;
  • 12 related to toddler milk activity;
  • 7 were classified as ‘other’.

Previous financial years

The outcome of complaints resolved in previous financial years are detailed in the Annual Reports below.

Background

The MAIF Agreement came into effect in 1992. Prior to 2014, the MAIF complaints process was managed by the Department of Health’s Advisory Panel on the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (APMAIF). From 2014 to 2017 the MAIF complaints process was managed by an Independent Tribunal, overseen by the Ethics Centre. An independent review of the MAIF complaints handling process was conducted in 2017. Following the review, the Department of Health assumed overarching responsibility for the handling of complaints received in relation to the MAIF Agreement.

Links to Related Documents

Links to Historical Documents

Annual Reports

Contact details

MAIF Complaints Committee Secretariat
Food & Nutrition Policy Section
Department of Health
MDP 707 GPO Box 9848
Canberra ACT 2601
Email: maif@health.gov.au