Front Labeling: What new features will consumers get on shelves starting this Saturday

From this Saturday they will start seeing each other, timid at first, black octagon foods that warns about those that contain more unhealthy ingredients, In this way, one of the many examples of so-called labeling legislation – strictly speaking, “to promote healthy eating” – would be completed, which, beyond this specific element, also generate information to modify consumer behavior. wants. Some companies try to improve their foods to avoid a drop in sales. The nutritional information that exists to date is only read by 10% of consumers.

The starting products of Black Octagons are top brand soft drinksAnd then gradually other foods from big companies that have abundance in five defined categories will be added: Sugars, Sodium, Total Fat, Saturated Fat and Calories, Food items produced by small and medium-sized companies have six months to apply for new labels as Law 27,642 (approved in October 2021 and regulated in March 2022) takes into account difficulties in several technical matters and in other economic matters. Which means redesign of packaging.

Some niche products will also carry these legends: “Contains sweeteners. Not recommended for children” and “Contains caffeine. Avoid in children.”

For the application, a manual was prepared with information on the layout of tickets (They should be on the body of the product, be legible and have a size relationship with the packaging, Those would be micro-stamps on smaller products like candy. Specifically in the case of sugar, the law will extend to products that have added sugar, so as to exclude natural products (such as single packaged sugar or yerba mate), as well as breast milk and formula for babies. years, and dietary supplements.

The appearance of black octagons in supermarkets will be gradual as the health ministry has already registered through the National Institute of Food (INAL-approved). Detail requests for about 11,000 products, Jam, Marmalade, Nougat, Cookies and Alfajore, among others. According to the ministry, which is the body that implements the model and which together with Anmat has commissioned and commissioned a series of virtual calculators to analyze over 100,000 products sold as food in the country? The law is more comprehensive than the obligation to seal”.

Access to Health Secretary Sandra Tirado mentioned this during a meeting with the press this morning. “The law guarantees the right to health and adequate nutrition and promotes what is healthy; We want to warn consumers about excesses in poor nutritional components”, he added during the presentation.

In the same sense, the Minister of Health, Carla Vizotti, expressed herself: “The idea is that consumers look at the octagon and like the fruit; And those who want a healthy diet or want to lose weight have information on concrete action,” he said on the second floor of the building on Avenida 9 de Julio.

“But a law doesn’t solve behavior quickly, it’s not like everyone will eat healthy from Saturday, you have to be realistic. It’s a very complicated strategy to address chronic non-communicable diseases.” [como la diabetes]Viscotti added.

“It’s not against the industry, you don’t have to be simple,” he said of the outrage, lobbying and resistance generated by the process of passing the law in Congress.

With this rule, Argentina joins other countries in the region that warn consumers about putting them in their mouths, such as Chile, Uruguay, Peru and Mexico (Europe uses the traffic light system). Due to technical similarities, the Argentine government did most of the work with this last country. From there, national officials collected data: at first, consumers are intimidated and about 10% end their consumption of the warning products, but soon they return to choosing them with or without the octagon (monitored The plan is to see if the same thing happens here) )

Another topic which was discussed a lot at the time of passing of the law is related to Ban on advertising of unhealthy foods and pictures on the outside of packaging that encourage consumption, As the law is in force, anyone who has octagons will not be able to attract attention or appeal to public figures with a picture; That is, the grain tiger is limited to products that do not have any of these problems due to the need for the placement of octagons. But the formulas from which they are made can, if changed, be used.

“Our goal is to keep the octagon as low as possible,” Vizzotti said. If the extension is due to a change in the formula, we look at it with better eyes because it is the idea of ​​the law”.

After more time requests and concessions, Full implementation for large companies will take place on February 20, 2023, and until the end of that year (November 20) for any extension to other concepts (with the exception of glass bottles, which have an additional technical difficulty). Although some products cannot be reformatted because they are over-processed, there are others that can. The biggest change is in the reduction of sugar and the use of potassium instead of sodium, Tirado said, noting that according to the 2020 National Health Nutrition Survey, Only one in ten people read the information available on food labels today.,

Warnings and punishments are provided for those who fail to comply with the rule, but it is not in the spirit of the authorities to enforce them, despite public resistance from some business circles, such as Copal. “All change generates resistance,” Vizzotti said. But when we explain it and look at the reasons why this is done, other than the existence of extensions that have an argument, it makes sense and progress is made. So, there were normal stresses, but the priority for us is health.”

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