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Food labeling in Mexico

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Food labeling in Mexico
LXI Legislature of the Mexican Congress
NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010
Territorial extentNationwide
Enacted byGovernment of Mexico
Date enacted2010
Status: Current legislation

Food labeling in Mexico refers to the official norm that mainly consists of placing labels on processed food sold in the country in order to help consumers make a better purchasing decision based on nutritional criteria.[1]

It was approved in 2010 under the Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM) NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010.[2] In 2020, the system was reworked and updated with the Food and Beverage Front-End Labeling System (Spanish: Sistema de Etiquetado Frontal de Alimentos y Bebidas; SEFAB) which was developed and implemented by the National Institute of Public Health [es] (INSP),[2] In 2020, labeling standards were applied to 85% of the food products consumed in Mexico,[3] a country that in the same year ranked first in childhood obesity and second in adult obesity.

Development[edit]

Background[edit]

The opening to foreign food industry capital since the 1980s and the entry into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 led to an increasing import of industrially processed foods into Mexico. Both resulted in an irreversible rupture in Mexico's eating habits and a sudden increase in obesity in the country. In the 1980s, the obesity rate was less than 10%.[4] Since then, Mexico became the country with the highest consumption of processed foods in Latin America and the fourth-highest in the world.[5]

Mexico applied the 2013 National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Overweight, Obesity and Diabetes (Spanish: Estrategia Nacional para la Prevención y el Control del Sobrepeso, la Obesidad y la Diabetes),[6] a series of measures by the government of Mexico aimed at combating the obesity crisis and chronic non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and others. According to the document "[t]he current levels of overweight and obesity in the Mexican population represent a threat to the sustainability of our health system, due to their association with non-communicable diseases and the use of specialized resources and higher technology that impose high costs on health services for their care."[lower-alpha 1] The statistics indicated that 42.6% of males over 20 years were overweighted and 26.8% were obese. Women in the same categories represented 35.5% and 37.5%, respectively. By 2018, 75% of adults were overweighted or obese.[7]

The system established by the food labeling norm NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010 of the Norma Oficial Mexicana standards, denominated as Daily Dietary Guidelines (Spanish: Guías Diarias de Alimentación or GDA), was based on the total amount of saturated fats (grasas saturadas), fats (grasas), sodium (sodio), sugars (azúcares) and energy (calorías) represented in kilocalories per package, the percentage they represented per individual portion, as well as the percentage that they would represent in a daily intake.[1]

Front-end labeling system[edit]

The original system notified consumers of the percentages of the values per package.

The National Institute of Public Health [es] (INSP) started in 2011 to investigate the effectivity of the then-labeling system. They found that it was ineffective as most nutrition college students could not interpret it correctly. In 2016, the National Health and Nutrition Survey (Spanish: Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición; ENSANUT) was performed. It included questions related to the comprehension of the GDA food labeling system, and the results determined that nationwide the surveyed people understood the system poorly. The INSP specified that 97.6% of respondents did not know the appropriate values ​​for calorie intake in children aged 10 to 12 years; 90% claimed not to know the daily values ​​of calories to be consumed by an adult person, as they lacked the right information to compare or decide a purchase based on the information available; and 64% said they never used the GDA system to base their purchases.[8] In the same year, according to a survey by the INSP and the University of Waterloo, Ontario, 7% of the consulted adults were able to understand the GDA system

A honey-sugared box of cereal informing the product contains excessive sugars and energy per 100 g (3.5 oz) of product. The nutrition label indicates that the product is barely within the acceptable sodium limit.

In 2016, the government of Chile approved the Food Labeling and Advertising Law, that uses simplified and visible warning labels that indicate the excess of calories and added nutrients and ingredients related to non-communicable diseases. Therefore, the INSP decided to form a committee of national academic experts on the front labeling of food and non-alcoholic beverages in order to define a new regulation.[1] The Secretariat of Economy and the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk held organized working groups which resulted in a standard draft, which was submitted for consultation from 11 October to 10 December 2019, where 5,200 comments were received.[9] Simultaneously, civil society organizations, organized in the Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria, carried out a public campaign to inform the population about the efforts.[7]

On 29 October 2019, reforms and additions to the Mexican General Health Law were approved, including the new front labeling model. On 27 March 2020, the Official Journal of the Federation published in the norm NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010 updates that determined that all food and beverage packaging and containers must display the approved seals.

Labels[edit]

The legends implemented are black octagons with white letters that seek to inform in a simple way about high amounts of sugars, energy, trans fats and saturated fats. Two rectangular legends were also included on the discouragement of the consumption of foods containing caffeine or sweeteners in children. These labels can be presented individually or in groups of labels, which will determine whether or not the product can include certain persuasive elements such as characters or cartoons on the packaging that seek to attract the attention of certain sectors of the population such as children.[10] Further, if the product has one or more legends, it cannot include endorsements from medical societies.

Label Translation Application parameters Risks and diseases associated with its consumption WHO suggested intake
Energy excess
  • When 100 grams (3.5 oz) of food contain an amount greater than or equal to 275 kilocalories (1,150 kJ).
  • When 100 milliliters (3.5 imp fl oz; 3.4 U.S. fl oz) of beverage contain an amount greater than or equal to 70 kcal (290 kJ) total or 10 kcal (42 kJ) of free sugars.[2]
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Arterial hypertension
  • 2,000 kcal (8,400 kJ) to 2,500 kcal (10,000 kJ) in men.
  • 1,200 kcal (5,000 kJ) to 1,600 kcal (6,700 kJ) in women.[11]
Sugar excess
  • When 100 g (3.5 oz) or 100 ml (3.5 imp fl oz; 3.4 US fl oz) of product (food or beverage) has an amount greater than or equal to 10% of the total energy provided by free sugars.
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic cardiovascular diseases
  • Risk of developing cancer
  • Tooth decay
  • Reduced intake of free sugars over a lifetime and at all ages to less than 10% of total caloric intake (less than 5% is desirable).[12]
Sodium excess
  • When 100 g (3.5 oz) of food contain an amount greater than or equal to 350 mg (5.4 gr) of sodium.
  • When 100 ml (3.5 imp fl oz; 3.4 US fl oz) of beverage contain an amount greater than or equal to 350 mg (5.4 gr) of sodium. If it is a non-caloric beverage, when its amount of sodium is larger than 45 mg (0.69 gr).
  • Strokes
  • Renal physiology problems
  • Calcium depletion
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Water retention
  • Hypertension
  • High blood pressure
  • No more than 2 g (0.071 oz) of sodium (equivalent to 5 g (0.18 oz) of salt) per day.[13]
Saturated fats excess
  • When 100 g (3.5 oz) of food has an amount greater than or equal to 10% of the total energy provided by saturated fats.
  • When 100 ml (3.5 imp fl oz; 3.4 US fl oz) of beverage has an amount greater than or equal to 10% of the total energy provided by saturated fats.
  • Increased risk of developing strokes and cardiovascular diseases
  • Less than 10% of the daily kilocalorie intake of a diet should come from saturated fats.
Trans fats excess
  • When 100 g (3.5 oz) of food has an amount greater than or equal to 1% of the total energy provided by trans fats.
  • When 100 ml (3.5 imp fl oz; 3.4 US fl oz) of beverage has an amount greater than or equal to 1% of the total energy provided by trans fats.
  • Increase of low-density lipoprotein
  • Cholesterol accumulation
  • Increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases[14]
  • Diabetes
  • Weight increase
  • Less than 1% of the daily kilocalorie intake of a diet should come from trans fats. Given their negative health effects, the WHO has promoted the eradication of industrially processed trans fats from the global food supply.[15]
Contiene Edulcolorantes - Sistema de Etiquetado Frontal de Alimentos y Bebidas de México 05.svg
Contains sweeteners. Not recommended for children.
  • If the product (food or beverage) contains sweeteners.
  • Creates dependence on sweetness in children
  • Reduced intake of free sugars over a lifetime and at all ages to less than 10% of total caloric intake (less than 5% is desirable).
Contiene Cafeína - Sistema de Etiquetado Frontal de Alimentos y Bebidas de México 06.svg
Contains caffeine. Not recommended for children.
  • If the product (food or beverage) contains caffeine.
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stomachaches
  • Difficulties in concentration
  • Increased heart rate
N/A
Tres sellos - Sistema de Etiquetado Frontal de Alimentos y Bebidas de México.svg
1/2/3/4 labels
  • When the package's surface is less than 40 cm2 (6.2 sq in), a label indicating the total number of seals a larger package would have shall be used.
N/A N/A

In addition to these seals, packaging must contain nutrition facts labels including the exact amount of sugars added to the product in the manufacturing process and the nutritional content expressed in quantities of 100 grams or 100 milliliters.[9]

Enforcement and impact[edit]

Among the organizations and entities that celebrated the entry into force of the labeling were the UNICEF,[16] the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization,[17] the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico, the main public universities of the country (the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the National Polytechnic Institute and the Autonomous Metropolitan University, as well as the Secretariat of Economy and the Secretariat of Health of Mexico, and the System for the Integral Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents.[9]

The governments of the United States, Canada, Switzerland and the European Union—where the largest multinational food corporations on the world are based—asked Mexico through the World Trade Organization to postpone the implementation date of the front labeling. According to the note issued to Mexico, the measures were "more restrictive than necessary to meet Mexico's legitimate health objectives".[5] The Mexican Consumer Products Industry Council (Consejo Mexicano de la Industria de Productos de Consumo; ConMéxico), which groups companies based in Mexico, asked the authorities to eliminate the new front labeling, describing it as confusing and unreliable. Among the companies that requested the postponement of the labeling were Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Grupo Bimbo. The latter was able to have some of its products exempted due to its own health strategy.[18] FEMSA, Coca-Cola producer in Mexico, filed an amparo lawsuit against the labeling of their products.[19] An amparo lawsuit filed by the National Confederation of Industrial Chambers in March 2020 was dismissed by the Mexican judiciary.[20] The Interamerican Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property and the Mexican Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property alleged that food labeling was unconstitutional and violated the provisions that Mexico had signed at the international level such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.[21] Civil society researchers pointed out the recurrence of the same argument in other countries in order to stop new labeling projects.[7]

Premios y reconocimientos[edit]

La Organización Mundial de la Salud otorgó en septiembre de 2020 el Premio del Grupo de trabajo interinstitucional de las Naciones Unidas sobre la prevención y el control de las enfermedades no transmisibles a la Secretaría de Salud de México por la actualización hecha en 2019-2020.[22][23]

Notes[edit]

  1. Original text: "Los niveles actuales de sobrepeso y obesidad en la población mexicana representan una amenaza a la sustentabilidad de nuestro sistema de salud, por su asociación con las enfermedades no transmisibles y por el uso de recursos especializados y de mayor tecnología que imponen a los servicios de salud altos costos para su atención".[6]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Sistema de etiquetado frontal de alimentos y bebidas para México". Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (in español). Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "MODIFICACIÓN a la Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010, Especificaciones generales de etiquetado para alimentos y bebidas no alcohólicas preenvasados-Información comercial y sanitaria, publicada el 5 de abril de 2010. Diario Oficial de la Federación" (PDF).
  3. "¿Qué cambia con el nuevo etiquetado de alimentos en México, inspirado en Chile?". El Universal (in español). 2020-10-01. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  4. Andrew Jacobs y Matt Richtel (2017-12-11). "El TLCAN y su papel en la obesidad en México (Published 2017)" (in español). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Esposito, Anthony (2020-08-12). "Mexico's new warning labels on junk food meet supersized opposition from U.S., EU". Reuters. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gobierno de México (September 2013). "Estrategia Nacional para la Prevención y el Control del Sobrepeso, la Obesidad y la Diabetes" (PDF).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 White, Mariel; Barquera, Simon (2020-01-01). "Mexico Adopts Food Warning Labels, Why Now?". Health Systems & Reform. 6 (1): e1752063. doi:10.1080/23288604.2020.1752063. ISSN 2328-8604. PMID 32486930 Check |pmid= value (help). Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  8. Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (21 May 2019). "Comunicado del Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública de México sobre el amparo indirecto en revisión relacionado con el etiquetado frontal de alimentos" (PDF).
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "Todo lo que debes saber sobre el nuevo etiquetado de advertencia". El Poder del Consumidor (in español). 2020-05-12. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  10. White, Mariel; Barquera, Simon (2020-01-01). "Mexico Adopts Food Warning Labels, Why Now?". Health Systems & Reform. 6 (1): e1752063. doi:10.1080/23288604.2020.1752063. ISSN 2328-8604. PMID 32486930 Check |pmid= value (help). Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  11. "OMS | Dieta, nutrición y prevención de enfermedades crónicas". WHO. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  12. "OMS | Ingesta de azúcares para adultos y niños". WHO. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  13. "OMS | Ingesta de sodio en adultos y niños". WHO. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  14. "REPLACE trans fat - OMS" (PDF).
  15. "La OMS planea eliminar los ácidos grasos trans de producción industrial del suministro mundial de alimentos". www.who.int (in español). Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  16. "UNICEF: El etiquetado frontal de alimentos y bebidas aprobado en México, "de los mejores del mundo"". www.unicef.org (in español). Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  17. OPS (30 September 2019). "Etiquetado frontal de advertencia, un paso urgente para enfrentar epidemia de sobrepeso y obesidad en México".
  18. "Bimbo se libra de etiquetado de alimentos por contribuir con estrategia de salud". Reporte Indigo (in español). Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  19. Staff, Forbes (2020-08-28). "Coca-Cola Femsa promueve amparo contra nuevo etiquetado". Forbes México (in español). Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  20. "Revocan a la IP amparo contra norma de etiquetado". El Financiero (in español). Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  21. G, Susana González (2019-12-03). "Nuevo etiquetado en alimentos y bebidas es anticonstitucional: AIPPI". www.jornada.com.mx (in español). Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  22. "La Secretaría de Salud de México gana premio de las Naciones Unidas por avanzar con el etiquetado frontal de advertencia en alimentos y bebidas". www.onu.org.mx. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  23. "https://twitter.com/drtedros/status/1309180055789207552". Twitter (in español). Retrieved 2020-10-09. External link in |title= (help)


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