Health & Wellbeing

Formula milk – is there a conspiracy of silence?


The CEO of the UK’s only producer of infant feed formula has attacked a ‘conspiracy of silence’ preventing open debate around the ‘breast is best’ advice for mothers who can’t, don’t or won’t breastfeed.

Ross McMahon, CEO of Kendal Nutricare based in the Lake District, also called for a public inquiry by Public Health England to include all baby formula milk ingredients in its review of ways to tackle child obesity, following recent cases of babies having adverse reactions to one of the biggest brands on the market.

He said: “Everyone agrees that breast is best, particularly in the first six months of life. But there has been a virtual conspiracy of silence around what the alternatives are for mothers who for whatever reason don’t breastfeed.

“Government statistics show that less than half of new mothers are still breastfeeding after eight weeks and with some 700,000 births a year that’s an awful lot of new mums who need open and honest advice on the alternatives. There is not a level playing field when it comes to the quality of formula baby milk on the UK market and there needs to be more transparency around ingredients and health implications.

“And with Public Health England issuing advice on how we should be tackling the country’s growing obesity problem with correct feeding from birth, we need a full public inquiry into this critical issue.”

As reports flood social media of Aptamil’s new formulation causing an adverse reaction in young babies, First Steps Nutrition Trust, an independent public health nutrition charity, stated on 12th July 2018: “The significant change is the whey:casein ratio which is now 50:50 not 60:40, reflect[ing] the decreased amount of whey being used in manufacture. This could potentially have an impact on an infant’s stooling and digestion.”

Kendal Nutricare wants to ensure industry food giants are not exempt from examination as they push through price increases of more than 12% to consumers.

Kendamil is made in Kendal, with all milk sourced from UK dairy herds. Ross concluded: “We are fully supportive of breastfeeding. Every mother’s breastmilk is like a finger print – completely unique to her. But for the many thousands of mothers who are unable to or simply don’t want to breastfeed we aim to provide a formula as naturally close to breastmilk as possible and for us that means no palm oil and using mammals’ milk fat with all the nutrients of full cream.”

Ross McMahon has been invited to address the All Party Parliamentary Group: Infant Feeding to discuss his concerns.

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