Front labeling: what consumers will find on the shelves
19 Aug 2022
Despite the fact that it enters into force this Saturday, only some items labeled with warnings can be found. Only by mid-2023 will it be completed in all products
As of this August 20, the so-called Healthy Eating Promotion Law, better known as Frontal Labeling, comes into force. However, only some products will be able to be detected on the shelves, since it will be fully implemented on November 20, 2023. The function of these labels is to warn consumers when a food or non-alcoholic drink has excess sugars. , total fat, saturated fat, calories and sodium.
Behind this rule there are years of investigation, however when there were only days left before he lost parliamentary status (with which he had to re-present himself and travel his path in Congress), the now Law No. 27,642 obtained the final endorsement by the legislators at the end of October 2021. But it was not until March of this year that the Decree establishing the regulations was published in the Official Gazette. And it will be this Saturday when he will take his first steps in the gondolas.
During a meeting with journalists of which Infobae was a part, the Minister of Health Carla Vizzotti, together with Sandra Tirado, Secretary of Access to Health of the Ministry of Health; and Evangelina Macías, director of the National Food Institute (INAL) of Anmat, gave details about this standard. It is that from the health portfolio they sought to warn that, despite the fact that this Saturday should come into force, not all the products reached will display the black octagon, but there will be a mix.
As they listed, there could be several reasons: products that are not labeled despite being covered by the Law may have a surplus of stock, that the items have been previously packaged, that they have a “long expiration date” (such as some canned goods). or by a request for extensions. On this last point, they warned that each request was analyzed in particular, since some companies indicated that they were seeking to reformulate their products to avoid octagons, while others cited problems related to packaging, imported products or similar aspects.
“Extensions were granted to some 240 companies, that is to say to some 11,000 products, which represents 3% of the universe of federal transit products that we estimate have a base of approximately 289,000 products,” Macías reported. In this sense, he highlighted that the City of Buenos Aires, the provinces of Buenos Aires and Córdoba have not yet completed the digitization of the articles that were endorsed by the local authorities. What’s more, there are also meat products registered by SENASA that would also be reached but still have to take this step.
In this sense, the head of the health portfolio stressed that “the most important objective of the Law is not that they only say excess, but that they try to readjust or comply with nutritional profiles and have the least amount of warnings. So, if they ask you for the extension to readjust the nutritional profile, that is precisely our objective”.
“What we are going to see from Saturday is the coexistence of products with and without a seal; It can even happen that we see the same company or brand with and without a seal because it depends on the stock they had”, Tirado explained. According to the schedule released by the Ministry, for companies the end date of the extension of the term approved by extension is February 16, 2023, and on May 20 of that year all products must have the labels.
Meanwhile, for SMEs the deadlines are more lax. So much so that the limit to request an extension is January 20, 2023, the coexistence between labeled and unlabeled products will extend throughout the year and until November 20, 2023 all must comply with the provisions of the Law.
”The more processed the food is, the more stamps it has; there are many products that cannot be adapted and others that do, for example, can lower the sodium and sugar content and not carry a seal,” Tirado said. “Our country’s system, which is frontal labeling, seeks to highlight the excess of the negative. This was already a definition in itself”, he added.
In the words of the official, the choice of this form of dialing is related to a national preference to show excesses. “People make better decisions when we have labels that talk about excess. In the year 2020, when the National Nutrition and Health Survey was carried out, it was shown that only one in ten people read the nutritional table of food”, he highlighted. At the same time, he warned that it is about “processed or multi-processed foods. In other words, we are not talking about natural foods”
“We know that the more processed the food, the more of these additives it has. Until now we were not clear, in that processing, how much was real. Many times, too, these highly processed foods are aimed at children and adolescents,” Tirado continued, clarifying that the foods that are exempt from these labels are “formulas for infants and children up to 36 months of age, foods for special medical and dietary supplements, which we are related to medical aspects”.
For his part, Vizzotti assured that this “Law is very regulatory. There are many things that are already defined and the regulation cannot change a comma. Yes, there are some practical things that were worked on a lot. But this, which goes much further than an octagon, is a law promoting healthy eating. The octagon is a very important tool, which already has scientific evidence, due to its impact and what it means”.