The boss of a leading Cumbria-based baby food manufacturer has called for a ban on palm oil in all infant formula products.

Ross McMahon, CEO of Kendal Nutricare is also demanding a ban on hospitals handing out ready-to-feed bottles, improved traceability of all ingredients, and better enforcement of UK regulations on infant formula labels as part of increased scrutiny of the multi-billion-pound UK market.

Mr McMahon voiced his concerns to MPs at an all-party Parliamentary group earlier this month.

“Breast milk is best for babies, the evidence for that is overwhelming,” he said.

“Yet we cannot ignore the fact that 98 per cent of mothers will use infant formula at some point, and skimmed milk products use palm oil.

“Parents need to know that cheap vegetable oils or palm oils combined with skimmed milk are not a healthy alternative to mammal milk fats.

“What a parent feeds their child in the first few months of life is extremely important, so why doesn’t the infant formula market attract the highest level of scrutiny?

"How can parents make informed decisions when there is little transparency and no debate?”

Kendal Nutricare is the parent company of Kendamil, the only British producer of infant formula.

Its infant formula uses full cream milk and bans the use of palm oil in all its products.

“The McDonald’s website gives me more information about the ingredients used in their burgers than many infant formulas provide on their labels, and surely that can’t be right,” Mr McMahon said.

He also asked MPs to support manufacturers using British milk.

Currently the UK market is dominated by imported infant formulas, none of which use British whole milk.