Food labelling. On November 11, the plenary session of the Parlasur turned over to its Health Commission a draft bill on “Right to healthy food, access to well-founded information and food labelling in Mercosur”. With this initiative, the aim is to improve nutrition and unify marketing and advertising criteria among member states. To this end, it promotes the harmonization of national legislation based on a single model of mandatory food labelling. It is expected that the text will be debated in the Committee in the coming months.
The regulation seeks to harmonise healthy eating legislation between different countries and encourage the consumption of healthy foods. Along these lines, it proposes mandatory labelling of ultra processed foods in order to improve access to information on the composition of foods. The latter should focus on communicating excessive amounts of critical ingredients (sugars, sodium, total fat, trans fat and saturated fat). However, it does not establish the type of label to be used, which is to be defined at a later point.
Regarding the scope of the bill, Uruguayan Congressman Luis Enrique Gallo (Frente Amplio-oficialismo) said it will not be binding but rather a “recommendation” that Mercosur countries will be able to choose to heed or not. On the other hand, representatives of the Paraguayan food industry expressed fears that with this regulation a new tariff measure will be subjected to their products.
The draft bill on labeling in Mercosur has been forwarded to the Health Committee of Parlasur, where it will begin its study in the coming months. Meanwhile, the countries of the region continue to promote regulations in this regard. Brazil continues with a public consultation process to define the mechanism it will use, while Uruguay is about to apply a system of ‘black labels’. Paraguay, for its part, is moving forward with an inter-institutional dialogue roundtable on a bill to implement labelling.