Argentina passes labeling law to identify unhealthy foods

The front food labeling law has been operating for a long time with pressure from civil society on the interests of large companies.

Its objective is to alert the consumer, through black labels, about the content of harmful ingredients to health in some food products.

Other Latin American countries already have similar measures, such as Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Mexico.

Yesterday, Wednesday, October 27, the Argentine Congress approved by a large majority the law that requires the food industry to put labels on packaging to warn consumers about excesses of, for example, sugars, fats and sodium.

The Law for the Promotion of Healthy Eating has already been approved by the Senate and in this new instance it was sanctioned by the Deputies by 200 votes in favour, 22 against and 16 abstentions in a debate that began on Tuesday and lasted until dawn.

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Deployment in the next 180 days

The deadline for food producing companies to comply with the new law is 180 days. Food products that contain ingredients that are harmful to health must be identified with black labels and white letters, in the shape of a diamond.

Labels must be visible and be no less than 5% of the surface of the container.

The norm known as “front labeling” is an old demand of consumer associations confronted with industrial sectors that considered its approval “stigmatizing”.

On a case-by-case basis, labels should be labeled “excess sugars”, “excess of sodium”, “excess of saturated fat”, “excess of total fat” and “excess of calories”. They should also warn if it contains caffeine or sweeteners, two ingredients not recommended for children’s consumption.

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We are not legislating, no matter how much lobbying there has been, in any sector, we do not want to prohibit the sale of any food. We just want to assure the consumer that we are providing concise information about what we consume“, said the pro-government deputy Cecilia Moreau, during the debate.

Current food labels “they are misleading and sometimes illegible. We are surrounded by ultra-processed products ​​with excess fat, salt and sugar“, argument.

Fight overweight and obesity

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The Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti, celebrated the approval of a law that considered “very important for health because it favors access to information for decision-making in relation to non-communicable diseases

According to data presented in the debate, 66% of Argentina’s 45 million inhabitants are overweight, 32% are obese and 42% suffer from hypertension.

Therefore, it is not possible to have the right to sell a food based on the concealment of the content.“Said Radical Civic Union opposition deputy Brenda Austin.

The law takes as parameters those recommended by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) regarding the consumption of sugars, fats and sodium. The standard is similar to others of the kind already in force in the region, such as Uruguay, Chile, Peru and Mexico.

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