WHO Code

What does the Code cover?
  • Formula milk
  • Any food or drink that would substitute for breastfeeding e.g. teas or foods aimed at babies under six months, of formula aimed at any age
  • Bottles
  • Teats or nipples
Who is expected to follow the Code?
  • Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of any of the above items
  • Health care workers, both professionals and volunteers
  • Health care facilities – hospitals, clinics, etc.
What must be on the label?
  • Labels must be in the local language
  • Information must include the hazards associated with artificial feeding
  • Labels cannot use idealizing language or images e.g. a happy baby sleeping, or a protective shield suggesting baby is in a protected bubble against disease
What IS allowed under the Code?
  • Use of formula with safe preparation, for babies who need it
  • Sale of products with technical information e.g. “125 ml polycarbonate bottle”
  • Scientific and factual information for health professionals e.g. “contains certain proteins”
  • Accurate information on safe formula preparation is required on all labels
What is NOT allowed under the Code?
  • Promotion to parents: advertising, free samples
  • Promotion to health professionals: gifts, free samples
  • Promotion in health facilities: posters, free formula, gifts
  • Promotion of unsuitable products for babies (such as sweetened condensed milk)


International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes


WHO Code Resolutions

When the International Code was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981 (see Resolution WHA34.22) it was recognized that it may require clarification or even revision. Accordingly Resolutions have been adopted every 2 years since 1982. The subsequent Resolutions have equal status to the International Code and close many of the loopholes exploited by the baby food industry. Read More…


WHO Code FAQ 2017






WHO Code Country Implementation of The Code 2011






WHO Code – LWTD in Canada





For more information on ‘the Code’