The ultra-processed products and sugary drinks industry is seeking, through injunctions, to delay and eliminate Mexico’s front warning labeling, putting their commercial interests before the health of Mexicans. despite the fact that the front warning labeling that is supported by national and international organizations, and has shown to be a tool that could help curb the obesity and diabetes crisis that Mexico is going through.
IBFAN has written to the Mexican Supreme Court to defend Mexico’s front-of-pack warning labels, that we consider a model for countries in the region.
There strong evidence-base showing the effectiveness of the warning label system that is now recommended by UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization.(1) Warnings were first adopted in Chile and have proved to me a much more effective system than traffic-light or GDA systems in informing consumers about high levels of sugars, fats or sodium in products, products that are all too often ultra-processed, with all this attendant risks. (2) Peru, Israel, Uruguay, Mexico and soon Brazil, Colombia and Argentina are now implementing warning labels and Canada and various countries, including in the Caribbean, may soon follow.
The industry tactics have parallels with the opposition that we have faced in our work to strengthen regulations on the marketing of baby feeding products, where the baby food industry uses the six tobacco industry tactics to undermine political will to adopt strong legislation: (1) maneuvering to hijack the political and legislative process; (2) exaggerating economic importance of the industry; (3) manipulating public opinion to gain appearance of respectability; (4) fabricating support through front groups; (5) discrediting proven science; and (6) intimidating governments with litigation.(3)
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1 Organización Panamericana de la Salud/Organización Mundial de la Salud (OPS/OMS), Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia (UNICEF). Un etiquetado nutrimental frontal claro y de fácil comprensión protege a niñas, niños y adolescentes en México, 2019.
2 Arrúa A, Machín L, Curutchet MR, Martínez J, Antúnez L, Alcaire F, et al. (2017). Warnings as a directive front-of pack nutrition labelling scheme: comparison with the Guideline Daily Amount and traffic-light systems. Public Health Nutr 2017; 20(13):2308-17.
3 Interference in public health policy: examples of how the baby food industry uses tobacco industry tactics. World Health Nutrition. https://worldnutritionjournal.org/index.php/wn/article/view/155)
4 Russ K, Baker P, Byrd M, et al. What you don’t know about the Codex can hurt you: how trade policy trumps global health governance in infant and young child nutrition. International Journal of Health Policy and Management 2021; 10(12): 983-97. Baker et al. Globalization and Health (2021) 17:58. Advocacy at Work During the Codex Committee on Food Labelling Meetin