How Complaints are Processed

The APMAIF relies upon the assistance of interested parties, such as breastfeeding advocate groups, health professionals and members of the public, in monitoring compliance with the MAIF Agreement. Suspected breaches of the MAIF Agreement are brought to the attention of the APMAIF by the submission of formal complaints through the APMAIF secretariat. The APMAIF does not, itself, initiate audit compliance with the MAIF agreement.

Upon receipt, complaints are assessed by the secretariat and are classified as being within or outside the scope of the MAIF Agreement. Those considered outside the scope of the MAIF Agreement may include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • an infant formula manufacturer or importer that is not a current member to the MAIF Agreement or was not a member at the time the complaint was made;
  • retailer activity where there is no involvement by the manufacturer/importer (e.g. price promotions in retail catalogues);
  • infant merchandise (e.g. infant feeding bottles, teats, dummies, etc); and/or
  • infant foods, including milk products formulated for children over 12 months of age (sometimes referred to as “toddler milks”).
The secretariat advises complainants in writing if their complaints are outside the scope of the MAIF Agreement.

Where a complaint is considered to be within the scope of the MAIF Agreement, it is unclear whether the complaint is out of scope, or more information is required before an assessment can be made, the secretariat advises the manufacturer or importer of the product concerned that a complaint has been received alleging a breach of the MAIF Agreement. The manufacturer or importer is invited to respond with any evidence or other information it wishes to submit for consideration.

Complaints that have been assessed as falling within the scope of the MAIF Agreement are then considered by the APMAIF at the next available meeting. Complaints requiring consideration by the APMAIF are summarised by the secretariat prior to being forwarded to the APMAIF. Summaries are prepared using a standard format to present the key information relevant to making a decision. This includes how and where the complainant obtained the complaint material, the complainant’s concerns regarding the material, relevant clause(s) of the MAIF Agreement, results of any enquiries made by the secretariat (e.g. responses from formula companies or health professionals) and any previous consideration of a similar complaint or relevant guidelines on the interpretation of the MAIF Agreement which have been made by the APMAIF.

The APMAIF considers the complaint and may decide that it does not reveal a breach of the MAIF Agreement or that further consideration is required before a determination can be made. Where further consideration is required, the manufacturer or importer is notified of this and is invited to respond with any further relevant information.

At the next available meeting, the APMAIF considers any additional information provided and makes a decision that the complaint is either ‘in breach’ or ‘not in breach’ of the MAIF Agreement.

When a decision is made, both the complainant and the subject company are advised of the final outcome of the complaint, including reasons for the decision. In breach’ decisions are reported to the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing and are recorded in the APMAIF Annual Report.

The APMAIF secretariat records all complaints received in its complaints register, which is used to compile statistics for presentation to the APMAIF at its quarterly meetings.

The complainants’ identities are not disclosed to the panel or other parties at any time.

Complaint Statistics 2011-12

Brought ForwardJulAugSepOctNovDecJanFebMarAprMayJunTotal
Out of scope
0
0
1
0
0
1
1
1
0
2
1
1
1
9
Retail – store
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
1
0
0
3
Retail – pharmacy
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
0
2
Health Professional
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Toddler milk
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
Non-signatory
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
2
Other
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
In scope
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
4
In breach
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Not in breach
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
3
Industry-wide action
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Carried forward
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
Total complaints
0
0
3
0
0
1
1
1
0
4
1
1
1
13
Complainants
0
0
1
0
0
1
1
1
0
3
1
1
1
10

In 2011-12 the APMAIF received 13 new complaints; this figure represents the same number of complaints received during the previous reporting period. Of the new complaints received, nine (approximately 69%) were assessed as falling outside the scope of the MAIF Agreement.

The ‘out-of-scope’ complaints in 2011-12 were assessed mainly within the category of retail activity. These included price promotion by retailers through weekly store catalogues and via the internet which has become a noticeable emerging trend.

Of the remaining ‘in-scope’ complaints considered by the APMAIF, three were determined to be ‘not in breach’ and have been resolved. One complaint is still being investigated by the APMAIF and has been carried over to the next reporting period.