I'm always a bit sceptical about labels on food. They are so easy to print, and so hard to check for accuracy. Add this attitude to my desire to avoid processed food if at all possible, and I turn out to be not a very good consumer, at least in the eyes of the supermarket chains.
But I was surprised to see yet another powdered milk scare in the newspapers recently. It actually turns out to be a bit of storm in a tea cup. Japanese powdered milk manufactured in Japan didn't meet the requirements for iodine levels in Hong Kong. The formula was made to Japanese specifications where, because of high levels of iodine in the general diet, less is required to be added to formula. Strange really - how is a baby fed on formula going to get any iodine when it is not likely to be exposed to the "general diet" for many months.
Really though the point is... None of this needs to happen. The infant deaths in China from their tainted powdered milk didn't need to happen. The best milk is breast milk and why mothers feel the need to wean so early is just beyond me. Study after study concludes that breast-fed babies have a much better chance of thriving than their formula-fed peers.
Within days of the Japanese formula story there was an article published in the Straits Times telling of a recent study which concluded that the best way to protect babies from the debilitating effects of eczema was to breast feed them for four to six months "until their digestive systems are more mature" according to Dr. Liew Woei Kang, a paediatric allergist and immunologist at Gleneagles Medical Centre. Mrs Ong who is mentioned in the same story fully breast fed two of her children for over two years. In spite of a history of eczema and asthma in the family, these children did not develop eczema.
As mothers we need to give our child the best and the best isn't always something with a label on it. Those pictures of babies with mortar boards and graduation gowns that you see on tins of formula really make me angry.
As nannies, we can encourage new mums to start with - and stick to - breast feeding. Share your knowledge and experiences freely and offer to help with such things as milk storage.
We have had some nannies on this site who are prepared to nurse another's child, and I think this is wonderful.