The purpose of this article is to analyze the current status of legislation regarding front-of-package food labeling. It is a complex and varied matter, with different types of legislative solutions throughout the region. In this sense, it is worth noting that there is a total of 57 bills related to this matter in Latin America.
Ecuador and Chile are the referents with their systems “Traffic light” in the case of Ecuador and “Octagons” in the case of Chile, while Mexico is the country that has more bills on the matter.
Labeling must take up a minimum of 20% and a maximum of 30% of the total package.
What is happening in Argentina?
While there is a global epidemic of overweight and obesity that comes from 1975 to date, the fact is that the prevalence of obesity increased 42% in people over 18 years between 2005 and 2013.
Moreover, the malnourished and overweight child population represents a 34%, an alarming rate if we take into account that overweight affects children’s health, their social development, and school performance.
As regards the costs incurred in overweight and obesity, it is estimated that they represent from 2 to 10% of the total health expenditure.
What causes obesity?
- High exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods;
- Insufficient food and nutrition education;
- Inadequate availability, access and use of healthy foods;
- Deficient regulation;
- High supply, availability and access to unhealthy foods;
- Greater sedentary lifestyle and insufficient physical activity;
- More obesogenic social environments;
- Increase in the consumption of processed foods high in sugar, fat and salt.
Our national strategy on healthy nutrition and obesity prevention policies is based on the traffic light system, where red means promotion, campaigns, etc. of healthy products, yellow means reorientation and improvement of the quality of health services and green means epidemiological surveillance.
Currently, a national plan for the prevention of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents for the period 2019-2023 is being worked on.
Child obesity is the most frequent form of malnutrition in children and adolescents in Argentina.
This plan is intended to ensure that all children and adolescents achieve a full development and a good quality of life. And the goal is to stop the growing epidemic of child overweight and obesity.
In view of the foregoing, a document of scientific evidence and international standards has been drafted within the framework of the Advisory Commission on Front-of-Package Labeling.
Its result was submitted to the President of the Nation last June and progress has been made in workgroups with the Ministries of Agroindustry and Production.
The various systems used in the countries of our region are being evaluated.
Finally, the next steps are to agree on a labeling system together with the Ministries of Agroindustry and Production to achieve a unique position of the National State and to be able to give recommendations to strengthen regulatory frameworks, both at the national and Mercosur levels.
As regards research in front-of-package labeling, a comparison is being made on front-of-package labeling of foods consumed by the Argentine population with the intention of obtaining results for no later than December of the current year in order to discuss the matter taking into account all positions, to draw up a single document agreeing on the steps to follow to at least stabilize this malnutrition and obesity scourge.
With regard to the trademark issue, it is worth mentioning that companies must adhere to the new regulations, which must surely require less visibility of their brands in the labeling, a topic that will clearly affect their marketing and sales strategies.