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IDFA Urges US Officials to Challenge WHO Dairy Restrictions at World Health Assembly this Week

May 24, 2017

IDFA is continuing to urge federal officials to stand up against World Health Organization (WHO) actions that pressure foreign governments to adopt policies discouraging the consumption of dairy products by young children. Most recently, IDFA called on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, who is attending this week’s World Health Assembly annual meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to raise concerns about the negative impact these actions could have on the health of millions of children who rely on dairy products for nutrition.

Last year, the WHO finalized a report containing “Guidance on Ending Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children,” which seeks to unduly restrict the marketing of milk and other dairy products for consumption by infants and young children. However, the World Health Assembly, which is the governing body of WHO, did not endorse the report at last year’s meeting, thanks to the U.S. delegation’s interventions. The assembly said that WHO should follow its existing recommendations promoting dairy product consumption and recognized the Codex Alimentarius Commission as the global food standard-setting body. The WHO however, continues to promote the report’s recommendations and seeks to incorporate them into the draft Codex Standard for Follow-up Formula.

Earlier this month, IDFA submitted comments to HHS, which had solicited feedback to prepare for the World Health Assembly meeting. In the comments, IDFA asked the agency to:

  • Continue to raise strong concerns about the WHO recommendations;
  • Insist that WHO policy recommendations be based on sound science and developed transparently with opportunities for input from all stakeholders; and
  • Make clear that countries are not obligated to implement the recommendations.

Read IDFA’s comments here.

John Allan, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards, helped lead industry efforts last year to build awareness of the report’s shortcomings and requested changes before the report was finalized. Allan has repeatedly urged HHS to reject the WHO recommendations and he serves as a member of an industry coalition that has briefed HHS officials and other federal agencies, as well as members of Congress, on the harmful nutrition and trade implications of the flawed WHO recommendations.

In July, Allan and Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president and general counsel, will attend the annual Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting in Geneva to push back against WHO’s overreach into Codex and help maintain the integrity of the science-based and transparent decision making process that has set Codex apart as the preeminent international standard-setting body for food.

The World Health Assembly convenes now through May 31.

For more information, contact Allan at jallan@idfa.org.

 
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