Infant formula and follow-on formula advertising may now be restricted following a Government amendment put forward by Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin on Monday.
The change to the proposed legislation would allow the new Media Commission to prohibit advertising relating to formula milk and follow-on milk based on concerns about the health impact on children.
This is on the back of work between Green Party colleagues, Minister Martin and Senator Pauline O'Reilly.
Commenting on the amendment, Senator O’Reilly said: "Formula milk advertising targets those who are seeking help with breastfeeding.
"Ireland has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. That is no accident. Formula milk is big business and Ireland is one of the largest exporters of dairy for formula milk."
Senator O'Reilly said that those who want to breastfeed must be supported and not the target of these money-making companies.
"Having spoken about this on various media over the past year, and having brought this issue up with Minister Catherine Martin, who has a strong track record for advocating for the same, I am delighted that she, on behalf of Government, has today inserted amendments to the Online Safety Bill to include the restriction of infant formula and follow-on formula," she added.
How women choose to feed their babies is a matter for themselves, she argued.
They need unbiased support, she said, adding "breastfeeding makes no company money and therefore it cannot currently compete for attention through advertising."
Advertising restrictions, she said, must go hand in hand with the additional funding that has been put into providing more lactation consultants and support for breastfeeding support groups.
Minister Martin tabled a number of Government amendments to the Online Safety and Media Regulation (OSMR) Bill during the Seanad Report Stage consideration of the Bill on Monday to address a range of issues raised by Senators during the Seanad Committee stage, which concluded on 31 May 2022.