New rules on labelling infant formula in England and Wales have been suspended after a legal challenge from local baby milk manufacturers.

EU legislation, intended to introduce stricter controls on the labelling and advertising of infant formula, were due to come into force last week.

However, a legal challenge from the Infant and Dietetic Foods Association (IDFA), which represents baby milk manufacturers, has held up the implementation of the legislation.

The UK's Food Standards Agency said the rules were due to be introduced to ensure that breastfeeding was not undermined by the promotion of infant formula.

"We are extremely surprised that companies to whom we have been talking about these regulations for almost three years should decide at the last minute to apply for a judicial review," said the FSA's director of consumer choice and dietary health Gill Fine.

"The Government's priority is to ensure that infant and follow-on formula is clearly labelled so that parents and carers who wish to use these products can do so in the correct way. That is why we were keen that these important provisions came into force as quickly as possible and are extremely disappointed that implementation of the new rules has been suspended."