Recent and future developments in South Africa relating to promoting and labelling foodstuffs for infants
On 6 December 2013 regulations came into force in South Africa prohibiting the promotion of baby formula, follow-up formulae, powdered milks and drinks marketed as suitable for young children, feeding bottles, and any other products that the Minister publishes in the Government Gazette (“designated products”).
Prohibited promotional practices include advertisements, rebates, special displays to promote sales, tie-in sales, discounts, competitions, gifts, distribution of information on nutrition or feeding young children, promotional items, and exhibition of the designated product’s brand name at events for the general public. Furthermore, company personnel may not contact members of the public, directly or indirectly. Indirect contact includes Internet sites, social media, and help lines. Although contact relating to product quality complaints and adverse events is not prohibited.
On 6 December 2014 regulations will come into force that provide strict requirements regarding the labelling and packaging of designated products.
There will be a prohibition of any graphic representation on labels. However, representations necessary to show the correct method of preparing, cleaning and using the product, together with pictures of the ingredient or prepared product will be allowed. Company logos and brand names will be permitted, provided that they do not contain a picture of a humanised figure. The label of a designated product may not refer to, promote or advertise any other designated product. Any incentive, enticement or invitation of any nature that might encourage consumers to make contact with the manufacturer or distributor or which might result in promotion of a designated product will be prohibited from appearing on the label.
Furthermore, there are strict parameters relating to the appearance and wording of the labelling for infant and follow-up formula, including requirements that the words “THIS PRODUCT SHALL ONLY BE USED ON THE ADVICE OF A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL” and “USE UNDER MEDICAL SUPERVISION” shall appear on the front main panel of the label.
Certain expressions that may be understood to identify the product as suitable to feed infants will also be prohibited. These include the terms “first growth”, “first food”, “from the start” and “best start in life”.
By 12 December 2015 all non-compliant products will need to be removed from the market.
This notice serves to highlight some of the important provisions in the regulations, but omits a large amount of detail.
Please contact us if you would like further information or for us to conduct a review of your product labelling.
By Nick Pemberton, Trademark Attorney