Colombian government and food industry reveal design of mandatory warning label

The warning label, which was presented by Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez last week, took a year and a half to develop, during which stakeholders analyzed graphical patterns and nutritional thresholds from around the world. and other Latin American countries.

“The front warning seals will be black, circular in shape and will display a warning for products high in added sugars, salt and saturated fat.” the government said in a statement. “[It] has been adopted within the framework of the national regulations in force and the international standards in the matter. “

Unlike the warning labels used in Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, the Colombian model adds a visual representation of sugar, salt, and saturated fat. However, detailed information on specific nutritional thresholds, category exemptions or a copy of the draft regulation has still not been made public.

Food manufacturers will also be allowed to add positive nutrition labels on the packaging of products meeting certain nutritional criteria, while the table of nutritional content will be simplified, said ANDI, the trade association that represents the interests of consumers. Colombian food manufacturers.

ANDI President Bruce MacMaster welcomed the deal. “Citizens have the right to have complete, clear and truthful information, and the industry is convinced of this objective”, he said. “We have always been in favor of […] best practices in consumer information, and that these are applied in Colombia.

ANDI: “An informed consumer makes better decisions”

Luis Felipe Torres, executive director of the Beverage Industry Chamber of Commerce, said the agreement demonstrates positive and constructive dialogue between all parties.

“The main objective of regulation is the consumer”, he tweeted. “An informed consumer makes better decisions. This is why the regulation must be based on the characteristics of Colombia [public] and not on external models.

Consumer rights organization Red PaPaz, which has led the consumer campaign for clearer front-of-package nutrition information, called on the government to urgently implement the resolution within 12 months. .

Eugenia Muinelo, head of regulatory affairs at EAS Strategies, a Buenos Aires-based consultancy firm, said the model released by the presidency resembles that discussed in other markets like Israel and the Central American System of Economic Integration (SIECA ).

Over-simplifying essential nutrients?

However, Muinelo questioned whether the visual representation would benefit the consumer in terms of understanding nutritional content.

“It’s more visual, yes, but on the other hand, it reduces the notion of sugars to a lump of sugar, fat to butter or fat to spread, or salt like that added to food by the consumer. In my opinion, this could simplify the concept of these essential nutrients added during the manufacture of the product. It would be essential to educate consumers on these differences. “

The logo also takes Latin America one step further from a harmonized nutrition label, Muinelo warned.

“The main problem around this proposal is that, again, a new regime would be introduced in the region, and the same products would carry different regimes, instead of simplifying a regime for the whole region, which provides for cultural similarities.” , he added. she added.

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