NAFDAC warns firms against leveraging COVID-19 to promote brands

Companies have been warned by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control against using the COVID-19 pandemic to promote their brands.

A directive issued, ‘COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and guidance note to companies that donate or market breastmilk substitutes for infants’, by NAFDAC said: “Companies that market foods for infants and young children (breastmilk substitutes) should not provide free products, samples or reduced-price foods for infants (below six months old) to families through health workers or health facilities, except as supplies distributed through government or officially sanctioned health programmes.

“The WHO International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes requires that products distributed in such programmes should not display company brands. In this specific instance, the unbranded packaging is to focus on the need to support the response to the
COVID-19 pandemic, where necessary in terms of infant and young child feeding, rather than use the pandemic as a platform for brand promotion.”

The agency advised all infant food manufacturers, distributors, and non-governmental organizations to adhere to instructions provided by the agency.

It noted that the importance of infant and young child feeding and the continued protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic could not be over-emphasized.

“Breastmilk is the best food for the newborn child as it protects them from sicknesses, it also helps to protect infants and young children.

“Breastfeeding is especially effective against infectious diseases as it boosts the child’s immunity by directly transferring antibodies from the mother to the child,” NAFDAC added.

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