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Implementation of the New Mexican Regulation for Front-of-Package Nutrition Label

By Dumont - 07/10/2020

On March 27, 2020, the Federal Gazette published the “Amendment to Mexican Official Standard NOM-051, General Labeling Specifications for Pre-Packaged Foods and Non-Alcoholic Drinks – Commercial and Health Information,” which include the implementation of warning signs to be affixed to processed foods and beverages labels if the products exceed critical thresholds nutrients (e.g., fats, sugars, sodium, etc.) that could lead to adverse health conditions.

The regulation also includes other modifications such as mandating precautionary legends for products that include caffeine and sweeteners, and the ban of characters, graphics, pictures or games on products targeted towards increasing consumption by children.

The FOPNL modifications will have three phases. Although some of the world’s biggest food companies pressed Mexico to delay the health warnings, the first phase started on October 1, 2020 and will last until September 30, 2023. Nearly 6,000 comments were submitted by domestic industry, multinational companies, and trading partner countries, many claiming that the regulation would have a severe impact on the industry.

According to a World Trade Organization document of a May 13-14 meeting of the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, published by Reuters, the U.S. delegation said it supports Mexico’s public health objective of reducing diet-related non-communicable diseases but that it was concerned the planned labeling may be “more trade restrictive than necessary to meet Mexico’s legitimate health objectives.”

“Mexico has chosen more stringent nutrient thresholds than the thresholds set by other countries,” the U.S. delegation said, citing the views of the government and nine trade groups.

During the first phase, each manufacturer must determine the calculation and evaluate what content levels are deemed in excess of the government-determined critical thresholds for the named nutrients in processed foods and non-alcoholic beverages. During this phase, the warning sign must be placed on the front of the package indicating the product exceeds the recommended thresholds in calories, sodium, trans fats, sugars, or saturated fats. The warning signs must be in the right top corner of the front of package of the product, according to the number of signs of the product.  

By Dumont - 07/10/2020
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