Vía La Tercera
With amendments which go back to the original version of the bill, the regulation of the Food Labeling Act was approved yesterday by the Comptrollership, and is ready to be published tomorrow in the Official Gazette. Thus, the regulation will come into force in June 2016, in order to raise awareness on the consumption of products considered unhealthy.
The new regulation, which will render the Law passed in 2012 operational, was originally drafted by the preceding authorities of the Ministry of Health, which decided to include in the labels of products warning such as “High in” sugar, sodium, calories or saturated fat. However, the current administration decided to amend the bill, modifying such warning to “Excess of” the critical relevant nutrients, after public consultation and a survey of experts’ opinions.
This amendment, challenged by the food industry, was rejected by the Comptrollership, which forced the Ministry of Health to go back to the original warning, inserting an octagon, similar to a Stop sign with black background.
“Based on the legal analysis conducted by the Comptrollership, the regulation included the warning message “High in” instead of “Excess of” suggested before. Beyond this change, the important is that Chile will have a regulation forcing the industry to label in a clear, accurate and outright manner when a particular food presents excess of some unhealthy nutrient”, stated the Ministry of Health, Carmen Castillo, who added that the regulation will prevent “continuing masking food as healthy, when in reality it is not. From its coming into force, we expect the industry to be acting pursuant to law”.
The Food and Beverage Association of Chile (AB Chile) expressed its satisfaction for the amended warning. However, its chairman Mr. Rodrigo Alvarez indicated that there are still procedural and substantial problems with the regulation, in particular, that the limits to determine when a product exceeds critical nutrients was defined in 100 grams and “not by portion, which is what a person effectively consumes”. Alvarez added that the regulation has “issues in terms of trademarks, international affairs, lack of clarity in the application and implementation of certain matters, and practical oversight”.
With the regulation at hand, foods which exceed sugar, sodium, saturated fat and calories limits shall be labeled as “High in” the relevant critical nutrients, and may not be sold in schools. In addition, such foods will be prohibited from using commercial hooks such as toys or gifts addressed to under 14 year olds.