BSACI policy on interactions with infant milk formula companies

The BSACI policy for interacting with industry states: “The BSACI recognises that the best opportunity to improve the health and well-being of infants and young children is through promotion of breastfeeding”. 

In 2020, BSACI developed its policy on how it will interact with industry after the BSACI Council took the decision in 2019 not to accept direct funding from infant milk formula (IMF) companies.

“This [decision] enables the BSACI to remain wholly independent in the critical area of infant feeding. The BSACI will continue to engage and debate with infant formula milk companies, [with regards to specialist hypoallergenic formulas for milk allergic infants,] but will no longer have any form of commercial relationship with them.”

In line with our organisational values, the policy enables us to lead the way in operating independently and in providing trusted expert advice in critical areas such as infant feeding.  The policy was approved by our members at the 2020 AGM. The decision has had a significant impact on our funding.

BSACI were one of the first organisations to take this stand, along with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, following the World Health Organization’s initial guidance on this issue.  We encourage more organisations around the world to follow our example.

Joint World Allergy Organization & BSACI 2022 UK Conference

In October 2019, while we were developing our new policy, we began working with the World Allergy Organization (WAO), having already agreed to host a joint World Allergy Organization & BSACI 2022 UK Conference in Edinburgh.

This is an important event as it will enable healthcare professionals to learn from worldwide experts and improve the care they can offer to people with allergies.

Many organisations across Europe and the United States still accept funding from IMF companies, including the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), the World Health Organization Foundation, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) and the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN).

The WAO, like these, also has commercial relationships in place with IMF companies, and will be accepting sponsorship from them for the 2022 meeting. 

After careful consideration, and a vote from BSACI elected council, the BSACI has decided to fulfil our agreement with the WAO and host the 2022 joint meeting with them. 

During the course of the conference, we [will] aim to be transparent about our interactions with IMF companies.  We will:

  • Follow our policy not to accept funding from IMF companies
  • Ensure that healthcare professionals can keep up to date with latest science and factual research, so they can provide the best care for infants who are allergic to cows’ milk protein.

BSACI Commitment to transparency

The BSACI is developing and will publish details on how we are working towards providing best practice around our interaction with industry and compliance, to reflect our industry policy and to guide our approach as to how we will interact with industry. Should you like to contact us with any comments you have around this, please email info@bsaci.org

This will help guide us in the way we interact with industry when working with the World Allergy Organisation (WAO) for the joint WAO & BSACI 2022 Meeting. It will be based on the following principles:

  • The joint meeting will be run on a commercial basis, as always. However, the BSACI will not take any profit, all net profits will be given to WAO. BSACI and WAO will however bear equal share of risk in the event the conference operates at a loss.  
  • We will not have any commercial relationships with companies who manufacture Infant Milk Formula.
  • The contract for organising of the 2022 joint conference is between Medivents (professional conference organisers) and WAO, not with the BSACI.
  • BSACI have a separate agreement with WAO which sets out the principles by which we will work together.
  • To ring fence the finances, financial transactions relating to the meeting will be managed through a separate bank account belonging to the professional conference organisers.  This is set up independently of the BSACI. The agency, along with the WAO, will be responsible for the overall management of finances relating to the meeting.
  • To ensure transparency, the final budget for the Joint WAO and BSACI meeting 2022 will be published on the BSACI website.
  • In 2019 BSACI members took the decision that the Society would no longer accept funding from companies who manufacture Infant Milk Formula.

This enabled the BSACI to remain independent in the critical area of infant feeding. The BSACI continues to engage, debate and collaborate with infant formula milk companies, but will no longer have any form of commercial relationship with them.

How the BSACI continues to engage with Infant Milk Formula companies and why:

  • For patient safety reasons
  • Research and development
  • New product investigation
  • Gaining vital scientific knowledge
  • To be at the forefront of breakthrough treatments and which will be of benefit to patients and the public

Many companies that manufacture infant formula will have parent companies. Where a parent company has a different subsidiary that is not involved in manufacture of infant formula, then BSACI may establish a financial relationship with them in relation to non-feeding products, ensuring we are consistent with our ‘Industry’ policy.

The BSACI continues to partner with many medical organisations around the world to collaborate on matters which benefit patients and the public. BSACI recognise:

  • The best opportunity to improve the health and well-being of infants and young children is through promotion of breastfeeding
  • For infants with cows’ milk protein allergy who are unable to breastfeed, specialist milk formulas can be crucial in maintaining their health
  • To help healthcare professionals stay up to date on and contribute to the best science on infant nutrition, the BSACI will continue to engage and debate with infant formula milk companies on specialist hypoallergenic formulas for milk allergic infants. 

Promotional literature produced for the meeting and during the event will include this statement to explain that our position on milk sponsorship differs to that of the WAO.