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: 09 November 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
  • Max Biocare
  • 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
  • Zuru Edge

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 complaints received on a case by case basis and is responsible for making determinations on potential breaches of the MAIF Agreement. The Committee was established in 2018 and is supported by the MAIF Complaints Committee Secretariat (the Secretariat), 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 committee prepares guidance documents to support the interpretation of the MAIF Agreement.

Outcomes of complaints resolved in 2020-21

The Committee resolved 53 complaints in the 2020-21 reporting period. These complaints will be included in the 2020-21 Annual Report. A summary of complaints resolved is available below.

Of the 53 complaints resolved:

  • 16 complaints were determined to be in scope of the MAIF Agreement. Of these:
    • 10 complaints were determined to be in breach of the MAIF Agreement.
    • 6 complaints were determined not in breach of the MAIF Agreement.
  • 37 complaints were determined to be out of scope of the MAIF Agreement. Of these:
    • 14 related to non-signatory activity.
    • 4 related to retailer activity.
    • 12 related to toddler milk advertising activity.
    • 7 were classified as ‘other’.

The complaints determined to be in breach of the MAIF Agreement in the 2020-21 financial year are summarised in the table below.

Complaint MAIF Complaints Committee final determination
1920-09 - The LittleOak Company 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 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, and a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-01 - The Infant Food Co. 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 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: 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 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.

2021-06 - Nutricia 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 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) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-08 - The LittleOak Company 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 Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020 determined the use of the words "baby formula" alongside infant formula company branding to be marketing activity directed to the general public and breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-20 - The LittleOak Company 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 Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020 determined the use of the words "baby formula" and "better for our babies" to be marketing to the general public and a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-25 - Nutricia Complaint: received on 8 September 2020 alleged marketing by Nutricia of Aptamil infant formula products through Google Ads in response to search terms related to a breastfeeding article was a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

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

2021-29 - Nature One Dairy 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: The Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2020 determined the use of the words “your baby’s development” and “Choose Nature One Dairy” to be marketing to the general public and a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-30 - Nature One Dairy 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 and a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

2021-35 - Nature One Dairy 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 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 and a breach of clause 5(a) of the MAIF Agreement.

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