UNICEF sets guidelines on good nutrition labelling
28 febrero 2020


Nutrition labelling. On February 12 , the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) highlighted the success of the new unhealthy foods warning labelling for packaging approved in Mexico. UNICEF said it was “one of the best in the world”, adding that this measure will be a major step forward in the fight against overweight and obesity. The Mexican labeling joins measures already in place in Ecuador, Chile, Uruguay and Peru, in line with the regional trend for this type of policy. It is likely that UNICEF will continue working to promote these measures, emphasizing the cases of Panama and Paraguay, where relevant bills are under way. 

In this context, UNICEF listed the good nutrition labelling essential features. First, it should have “simple and clear information that reports on excess nutrients that are a major contributor to overweight and obesity. Also, food and drink containing excessive calories and sugar, sodium, saturated and trans fats should be classified according to the nutrient profile developed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Finally, labelling should include special warnings concerning the presence of caffeine and sweeteners as undesirable for children,

The new labelling exercise in Mexico is part of a regional process as countries like Uruguay, Chile and Peru have in the last couple of years approved using a black octagon on front labels to warn that products contain harmful nutrients. There are other models being promoted in the region, such as the traffic light system (Ecuador), the magnifying glass system (Brazil)and a hexagonal symbol in Panama, bearing witness to the progress being made in the area. 

Next steps

The recent approval of the new labelling in Mexico was hailed by UNICEF as “an example for other countries”, and other countries in the region are expected to continue passing legislation to encourage and regulate nutrition labelling. Panama, Brazil and Paraguay are already working to introduce this measure in the short term.