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Monday, December 18, 2023

Tandag City reminds donors, relief workers not to include infant formula in relief packs

By Renelle L. Escuadro

BUTUAN CITY – The city government of Tandag reminded donors and relief workers not to include infant milk formula in relief packs for distribution in calamity-stricken areas, as this is prohibited under Executive Order 51, or the Milk Code.

The Milk Code of the country specifically disallowed the distribution or giving of infant milk formula, powdered milk, feeding bottles, teats, and commercial baby food while the province is currently in a state of calamity due to the recent earthquakes that hit the place and with the evacuation of families in some flooded areas of the province due to the ongoing weather disturbance brought by Tropical Storm Kabayan.

Reyveen John Geli, nutrition officer of Tandag City, emphasized that EO 51 aims to protect the welfare of vulnerable groups, such as mothers and infants, as the frequency and intensity of natural disasters continue to increase.

According to Dr. Niño Archie Labordo, regional nutrition program coordinator of the National Nutrition Council (NNC) Caraga, there have been reported cases of improper use of these infant formula milks with unclean water during calamities that imposed greater health risks, especially for the infant, such as diarrhea and food poisoning. Thus, EO 51  served as a significant mandate to address this dilemma.

“The NNC, through its local councils at the grassroots level, therefore campaigned for breastmilk as still the number one nutrition that infants need even in times of calamity,” Dr. Labordo added.

Moreover, the NNC also called for the full cooperation of the public on the compliance of the law, as suspected violations 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 of EO 51 stipulates that proven violators 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) not more than thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) or both.

The Milk Code, or Executive Order No. 51, also known as the National Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Breastmilk Supplements, and Other Related Products, was promulgated on October 20, 1986, by then-President Corazon C. Aquino. (RLE/PIA-Caraga)