It’s illegal to share and use homemade baby formula, says health dept

The warning by the health department comes as KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng endure a shortage in baby formula, due to the widespread civil unrest that unfolded in some parts of the country last week.

It is illegal to share baby formula through donations and the use of homemade infant formula, the Department of Health has warned.

This as Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have endured a severe shortage in baby formula due to shops being looted and damaged and distribution routes being barricaded, preventing the freight industry from honouring its mandate to the public.

Department of Health spokesperson Popo Maja said the current volatile situation, “has led to an acute shortage of infant formula and other essential food supplies in some provinces”.

He said the department noted the concerns in relation to baby formula and wanted to remind the public that calls for infant formula donations and distribution on social media platforms were illegal.

“Government has regulatory frameworks for the management of commercial infant formula.

It is, therefore, recommended that infant formula donations should be made through the provincial Departments of Health.”

Maja said the provincial departments of health would facilitate the receipt of the donated infant formula to ensure compliance to the regulatory framework.

He said donors would be directed to the appropriate district health personnel to support identified non-breastfeeding mothers, according to their needs and based on assessment in the current context.

“This is an interim measure to mitigate the challenge at hand thus this will be reviewed in due course as the situation normalises.”

Maja said further social media communication promoting recipes for homemade replacement infant feeds to refrain from circulating such information.

“The department does not support the use of homemade infant formula because it can harm infants.

“These homemade infant formula recipes might not contain enough or might contain too much of some nutrients and put infants at risk of getting sick and causing diarrhoea.”

Maja urged mothers who are not breastfeeding their babies, not to use these recipes or any other unsuitable products such as coffee or tea creamers and condensed milk.

“The department calls upon all stakeholders to refrain from posting and sharing misinformation around the calls for commercial infant formula donation and infant feeding that undermines breastfeeding.”

He said the government reminded stakeholders that, by law, no person was allowed to promote infant formula.

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