food labels When the word alto appears a few times, beware.

Lower house approves labels giving risk warnings for processed foods

Consumers would be warned if the products contain high levels of calories, sugar, salt or saturated fat

Prominent health risk warnings may soon appear on prepackaged food and non-alcoholic beverages whose consumption can have adverse health effects.

The lower house of Congress on Tuesday passed modifications to the General Health Law that stipulate that the labels on food and drinks must warn consumers if they contain high levels of calories, sugar, salt or saturated fat.

An octagonal-shaped symbol will appear on the front of products that exceed Health Secretariat guidelines.

Within the symbol, which will have a black background, white text in capital letters will warn consumers that the product is alto en (high in) one or more harmful ingredients.

Labels must also state whether a product contains ingredients that are genetically modified and include its nutritional value, including energy content and total sugar amounts, in a “direct, simple, visible and easy-to-understand way,” according to the reform approved by lawmakers.

In addition, the labels of products high in sugar must warn consumers that excessive consumption increases the risk of serious illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and poor oral health.

The Secretariat of Health has the right to include graphic images on products considered especially harmful to human health such as those seen on cigarette packages.

The lower house of Congress also voted in favor of outlawing the use of images of children on products that are considered harmful. Images that “cause confusion or false expectations among consumers,” such as a picture of a person exercising while consuming a product that is high in saturated fat, are also banned.

The modifications to the health law will now go to the Senate for its consideration.

Deputies’ approval of the General Health Law modifications came a day after President López Obrador acknowledged that taxes on unhealthy food and cigarettes have not been successful in discouraging their consumption.

“It can’t only be about paying more taxes,” he told reporters on Monday. “There needs to be more information for the people.”

Source: El Financiero (sp) 

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