Executive Order 51 also known as the “National Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Breastmilk Supplements and Other Related Products” aims to protect and promote breastfeeding and to ensure that breast milk substitutes and supplements are properly used with adequate information, marketing and distribution. In the past year, there had been reported cases of violation of this order such as distribution of infant formula milk in “ayuda” packages, relief goods or as donations in calamity-stricken areas. The improper use of these infant formula milks with unclean water during calamities imposes greater health risks for the infant such as diarrhea and food poisoning - thus breastmilk is still the number one nutrition that they need even in times of calamity.
EO 51 applies to the marketing, and practices related to breastmilk substitutes such as “infant formula, milk products, foods and beverages, including bottle-fed complementary foods, when marketed or otherwise represented to be suitable, with or without modification, for use as a partial or total replacement of breastmilk; feeding bottles and teats. It also applies to their quality and availability, and to information concerning their use”. Awareness of the provisions of this order can help us identify violators and to protect breastfeeding by looking into the following criteria based on Section 6:
1. No advertising or promotion in any form of breastmilk substitutes.
2. Manufacturers and distributors are not allowed to give samples supplies or gifts of breastmilk substitutes to the general public, their families and even to healthcare personnel.
3. No point-of-sale advertising, giving of samples or any other promotion devices to induce sales directly to the consumers at the retail level, such as special displays, discount coupons, premiums, special sales, bonus and tie-in sales.
4. Manufacturers and distributors shall not distribute to pregnant women or mothers of infants any gifts or articles or utensils which may promote the use of breastmilk substitutes or bottle feeding, nor shall any other groups, institutions or individuals distribute such gifts, utensils or products provided by this Code.
In case of suspected violations, they can be reported to the Mother-Baby Friendly Philippines Website at https://mbfp.doh.gov.ph/ with options to report violations related to EO 51 (Milk Code) and RA 10028 (Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act). Section 13 states that proven violators of EO 51 will be punished with a penalty of “two (2) months to one (1) year imprisonment or a fine of not less than One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) nor more than Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) or both”.
EO 51: National Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Breastmilk Supplements and Other Related Products. (1986). The LAWPHiL Project: Philippine Laws and Jurisprudence Databank. Retrieved from https://lawphil.net/executive/execord/eo1986/eo_51_1986.html
Image Source: Mother-Baby Friendly Philippines. (2021). What is Executive Order 51 Infographic. Retrieved from https://mbfp.doh.gov.ph/