On Tuesday 1 October 2019, the House of Representatives made a historical decision that will significantly impact the industrial food and beverage business in Mexico. In a unanimous decision of 455 votes in favor of the proposal, and only 3 abstaining, the House voted to approve amendments to the General Health Law, to state that industrial food and beverages must provide consumers with detailed and clear information about their contents.
Although the main purpose of the amendments is to reduce the consumption of junk food in Mexico, it will apply to all industrial food and non-alcoholic beverages. Specifically, it will oblige producers of industrial food and beverages to clearly label their products with information about contents that could damage health, such as the quantities of fat, sugar, sodium and food coloring. The warning label of these elements at the front of the food product will have to be independent of the information label about ingredients and nutritional content.
Mexico has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. For many years, Mexican and international social organizations have fought for a clear food labelling system in Mexico in an attempt to combat these obesity rates. One day before the decision, the UN stated that such approval of labelling was urgent to confront the epidemic of obesity in Mexico.
Some stakeholders have criticized the amendments, stating that the change would not be received well, because society generally does not read the labels of the food they eat. Others said that the modifications would be insufficient to tackle obesity in Mexico, but also stated that it was a step that needed to be taken.
The approved amendments, which can be found at:
http://www.senado.gob.mx/64/gaceta_del_senado/documento/100195, have been sent to the Senate for their approval and eventual publication. They will come into force the day after they are published, after which the food and beverage industry will have to make significant changes in order to comply.
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