Tins of baby formula would carry warnings of the risks of formula feeding, and manufacturers would face stricter advertising controls, under changes being considered by the food regulator.
State governments, midwives, breastfeeding advocates and the Uniting Church have all recommended that Food Standards require formula tins to carry explicit warnings of the risks of formula feeding.
The regulator is preparing to revise standards for the product in in Australia and New Zealand.
''Labelling requirements should sufficiently address risk,'' the NSW Food Authority said in its submission.
Warnings suggested include the increased rate of infection associated with formula feeding, links to obesity, and the risk that supplementing breastfeeding with formula can deplete milk supply. Any health warning would be in addition to the existing requirement that formula tins carry a ''breast is best'' message.
''Tangible information such as 'breastfeeding is associated with lower incidence of infection' is meaningful and transferable to a parent seeking to keep their child well,'' ACT Health said in its submission.
The Victorian and Queensland state governments said health workers had reported parents adding cereal to formula ''in the belief it will delay hunger and prolong sleep''. They want formula tins to warn parents not to add anything ''in light of the increasing evidence linking formula feeding and obesity''.
Bottle Babies, a support group for parents who bottle feed, said any health warning would simply add to the angst felt by mothers who use formula. ''The damage it could do to the mental wellbeing of formula-feeding parents outweighs any good it could do for breastfeeding rates and supporting breastfeeding families,'' it said.
Manufacturers such as Nestle (NAN brand) and Pfizer (S26) do not want an additional warning.
''We believe that healthcare professionals are the most appropriate source of information with regards to the risks of not breastfeeding,'' Nestle said in its submission.
Food Standards will also consider banning formula-makers from making ''content claims'' in their marketing, such as ''inspired by breast milk'', ''helps support your baby's immune and digestive systems'' and ''assist brain and eye development'' claims.