Baby milk formula manufacturers have stopped the government from introducing strict new rules relating to advertising and labelling.

The changes, proposed by the Department of Health and the FSA, banned advertising of formula for babies aged under six months and clamped down on on-pack claims such as "close to breast milk".

But the Infant and Dietetic Foods Association, acting on behalf of members SMA Nutrition, Nutricia and Heinz, made a last-minute legal challenge, in the High Court.

An injunction was granted on Friday - the day the new regulations were due to come into force. The IDFA said it had not been given enough time to prepare since a year-long transitional period had been withdrawn.

"In July the FSA made it clear that products that did not comply with the new regulations could continue to be traded until December 2009," it said. "But in December 2007 the FSA and Department of Health unexpectedly announced they wanted to rush the implementation of the regulations. It is simply impossible that baby milk producers could have made the labelling changes that were asked for, on the timetable that had been demanded."

Implementation of the rules has now been suspended until a judicial review in February.

The FSA said it was "extremely disappointed". "The government's priority is to ensure formula is clearly labelled so parents who wish to use these products can do so in the correct way," said Gill Fine, director of consumer choice.

Topics