Political Correspondent

A BILL To crackdown on “misleading and excessive” claims of baby milk companies has been launched by a Glasgow MP.

Alison Thewliss, Glasgow Central SNP MP wants to stop companies targeting parents with products they don’t need and to ensure all products on sale are properly tested.

Ms Thewliss has published the Bill which she said has support form Unicef and other campaigning groups.

The Bill would introduce plain packaging for all formula milks and ban the use of terms like “follow on” and “growing up” milk which she says are misleading parents.

She wants an independent body set up to test products and verify the claims made my manufacturers before they are allowed to be sold.

Mr Thewlis said her objective was not intended to stop parents using formula milk but to ensure the information they receive is accurate.

She said: “For too long, these enormously powerful multi-nationals have been pushing the boundaries and circumventing existing legislation to relentlessly promote their products to parents and families.

“The more we see new aggressive marketing techniques, the more we see ever higher prices for formula milk, which is borne by the consumer.

“I absolutely understand and respect that some families will choose to use formula milk; this is absolutely not about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding.

“I want to make sure parents are protected from misleading advertising and can access impartial, trusted information when making feeding decisions for their children.

“The consultation I carried out demonstrated that many parents are making decisions based on marketing alone, which is deeply worrying.”

The MP said the current legislation is being ignored by companies who use marketing tactics to get round regulations.

She said that a ban on advertising milk for new babies is circumvented by branding identical products with terms like follow on milk.

Ms Thewliss added: “The reality is that there is generally no need for formula after the age of one. This loophole is costing families dear, with most formulas costing around £10 per packet.”

She said parents are paying the price for a marketing war between companies and wants them to be free from “commercial influence and pressure when making choices about how they feed their children”.

The Bill gets its second reading at Westminster this week.