The National Nutrition Council (NNC)-XI has reiterated its call to exclude infant formulas in the food packs that individuals and groups intend to donate amid the COVID-19 crisis.
On Wednesday, over the Philippine Information Agency’s (PIA) One Davao on COVID-19 virtual presser, NNC-XI program coordinator Maria Teresa Ungson said that soliciting or donating infant formulas is against Executive Order No. 51 or the Milk Code of the Philippines.
Under this law, donations of breastmilk substitutes including infant formulas, such as powdered milk, other milk products, foods, beverages, feeding bottles, and teats are not allowed.
“Because we have infants at home, there is a tendency that these milks could be given (fed) to the infants. Now, that is against Executive Order 51 or our Milk Code of the Philippines, so there is a law and we have to protect the rights of the child,” she said.
“Good-hearted people have good intentions. But I hope that they do not include milk in their food packs because it is against the law,” Ungson added, stressing that the appropriate milk to give to the infant children would be a mother’s breast milk.
“That would be the best, actually,” Ungson said.
It can also be noted that the Department of Health (DOH) Administrative Order (AO) 2006-0014 or the “National Policies on Infant and Young Children” indicates that in times of crisis, breastfeeding is the first and best feeding option for infants and young children.
Ungsod also pointed out that they have already called the attention of some groups that mistakenly included infant formulas in the relief goods.
Ungson has appealed to those groups to understand that they (NNC) “don’t mean anything bad” for calling them out. “[We just have to enforce the law… I hope that soliciting and asking from other groups for milk to be given to families should not be done,” she said.
Meanwhile, the DOH Administrative Order 2007-0017, or the “Guidelines on the Acceptance and Processing of Foreign and Local Donations during Emergency and Disaster Situations,” stated that “infant formula, breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles, artificial nipples, and teats shall not be items for donation. No acceptance of donation shall be issued for any of the enumerated items.”