The General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression (CCF) is collaborating with two civil society organisations (CSOs) to verify the advertising claims of several products which are marketed as breast milk substitutes.

A November 21 workshop was held to coordinate activities which would be carried out should products not comply with government sub-decree No133 on the Marketing of Products for Infant and Young Child Feeding.

The workshop, held at CCF’s Phnom Penh headquarters, was also an opportunity for the department’s leadership to meet with representatives from Helen Keller International (Cambodia) and Alive & Thrive – a global nutrition initiative.

CCF director-general Phan Oun told The Post on November 22 that the workshop aimed to assess products compliance with the sub-decree.

He said CCF officials had examined the advertising claims of several infant and toddler formula milk providers and made visits to target provinces, in cooperation with the two CSOs, to view the advertisements of the products.

“We scheduled regular visits to markets so we can verify which manufacturers are in compliance and which are not. If they are not following the principles of the sub-decree, we will enforce severe measures. We are also introducing additional workshops to train more of our officials to work in this important area,” he said.

The sub-decree aims to contribute to providing adequate and safe nutrition for infants and young children by protecting and promoting breast-feeding and encouraging only appropriate and timely complementary feeding. It ensures that substitutes are used only when necessary.

Any breast-milk substitute manufactured in accordance with the Codex Alimcntarius standard will satisfy the normal nutritional requirement of infants from birth up to six months of age and is suitable to their physiology.

The sub-decree describes young Children as children from 12 to 24 months of age.

Tum Samnang, head of the CCF’s technical affairs department, told The Post that the team had inspected shops, supermarkets and drugstores in 45 locations across Phnom Penh and nine provinces.

He said that between March and October, they had put signs on products deemed to be non-compliant. This served to alert the public to misinformation.

“We will continue to impose strict legal action on all goods which are sold with false claims, not just powdered milk. We are training more officials to the high standards that this work requires,” he added.