Manufacturer Kendal Nutricare found itself at the centre of the raging debate on infant formula following a special report by Dispatches.

Presenter Kate Quilton toured the company’s Kendal factory and quizzed chief executive Ross McMahon during the programme on Channel 4, called The Great Formula Milk Scandal.

The programme called into question the claims being made by formula companies in their labelling and marketing and attacked the companies for their pricing strategy.

Independent company Kendal Nutricare was the only major producer of formula in the UK to open its doors to the Dispatches camera crew, revealed presenter and journalist Mrs Quilton.

After learning how unpasteurised cows milk, with an array of additional ingredients, is transformed Kendal Nutricare’s Kendamil formula, she asked Mr McMahon for his thoughts on the industry and its regulation.

“The formula industry was dominated by pharmaceutical companies for many years making Big Pharma margins,” he said.

“Now they are owned by massive corporations who still want to make super profits.”

When asked on what needs to change in the formula industry, he added: “We do need more independent clinical work carried out.

"The body that represents the big manufacturers have recently set up their own code of practice. They are controlling their own industry. That's like the foxes looking after the chicken coup quite frankly.”

According to Dispatches, the UK spends around £450 million a year on 55,000 tonnes of infant formula each year in a wider “massive global market”.

Mrs Quilton spoke to several parents confused over product labelling and pricing, with some admitting to panic buying or going for the most expensive option with price seen as a mark of higher quality.

However, infant feeding specialise Shel Banks said strictly regulated guidelines on what can be used in infant formula meant there was “nothing to choose between them in terms of nutrition at all”.

She called into questioned the inclusion of additional ingredients providing other benefits to babies and helped them a ploy to help companies sell their products.

“If ingredients needed to be in it, they would have to be included,” she added.

While Dr Robert Boyle, specialist in paediatric allergy at Imperial College London, warned “don’t believe everything you see on the label”, consultant neonatologist Dr Laura de Rooy, went a step further and called for ‘hungry baby’ and ‘good night’ milks to be removed from supermarket shelves.

Bio supply chain management alliance, the BSMA, refuted the accusations, adding: "We are only allowed to make legally approved claims and we believe it is irresponsible to suggest to parents and caters that they cannot trust these."

Around £5 billion a year is spent by the industry on marketing, the programme claimed.

According to a leaked document seen by the programme, Danone – which dominates the market – gets a £4 return for every pound it spends on marketing. The programme also revealed that the British Medical Journal is no longer accepting formula milk adverts.

Meanwhile, research by Dispatches found that almost a third of clinical commissioning groups in England had reported breaches in World Health Organisation guidance on healthcare professionals accepting gifts, money or sponsorship from formula companies since 2014.

Mrs Quilton concluded: “We need more transparency, fairer pricing and someone to hold these companies to account. Because after all we can't rely on formula companies to put babies before profit.”