- October 2, 2019
The Inter-American Conference on Social Security (CISS) applauds the decision made by the Mexican Congress to put a simple, straight-forward labeling in place. Implementing good practices with proven results in the Americas represents a step in the right direction towards ensuring the health and wellbeing of the entire population, and is a testament of the Federal Government’s devotion to directly address the problem posed by overweight and obesity.
Therefore, we urge the Mexican Senate to streamline the legal process as to allow this bill to become a law. It is impossible to fathom welfare without a healthy, nourishing food regime. This is why the CISS applauds this historical milestone in the Mexican Health System.
As part of a process of adapting to international regulations and the new Federal Government’s direct fight against products that are bad for people’s health, the Chamber of Deputies passed reforms the General Health Law to implement labels that include accurate, visible and easily-understandable nutrimental information, as well as programs that foster nutritious food intake and reduce malnutrition. This despite mediatic pressures against this initiative by companies such Bimbo, Coca-Cola, Femsa, Kellogg’, among others.
The approved decision states that the products nutrimental information must be shown on the front, along with the warning in case the products exceed the maximum limits of energy content, added sugars, fats, and added sodium separately and independently to the ingredient table and nutritional information shown on the back.
It should be noted that Mexico has been lacking a public health regulatory policy that fights against the indiscriminate trading of junk foods and the dissemination of further information to the population about the intake of foods and beverages.
As per the 2016 Halfway National Health and Nutrition Survey (Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición de Medio Camino; Ensanut MC), overweight and obesity affect 7 out of 10 adults.
In 2015, as part of the National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Overweight, Obesity and Diabetes (Estrategia Nacional para la Prevencion y el Control del Sobrepeso, la Obesidad y la Diabetes), a regulatory measure on labeling known as “Daily Food Guides” (Guias Diarias de Alimentacion or GDA), based on the European system, indicating the quantity and percentage of saturated fat, other fats, total sugar, sodium, and energy in Kcal) consistent with the total contents of the container and portion.
An assessment made by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) showed, however, that the GDA labeling proved to be difficult to be clearly understood. Additionally, the UK Health Forum identified a series of conflicts of interest present in the process to regularize the GDA labeling in Mexico, particularly that neither academic experts have been consulted nor enough scientific evidence has been available before their implementation.
In the same period where Mexico implemented the GDA, countries such as Chile, Peru and Canada enacted the so-called “Warning Labeling”, which proved to bring really good results. This system lets consumers know the excessive content of energy, nutriments, and ingredients in food in a simple manner, whose excessive consumption is related to several C-NCD. Appropriately adopted, the Pan-American Health Organization has adopted this type of system as a best practice and proposes to adopt it across the region.