The Economy Ministry (SE) has placed an immediate ban on the sale of 19 brands of cheese and two brands of yogurt because they don’t meet official standards.
The ministry, in conjunction with the consumer protection agency Profeco, said Tuesday that various products called “cheese” and “natural yogurt” don’t comply with official Mexican standards and their sale has been carried out “to the detriment of consumers and with information that could cause them to be deceived.”
The ministry said the main breaches of the 19 cheese brands were that they claimed to be made with 100% milk when they were not; that vegetable oils were added in lieu of milk in their production; that they weighed less than the amount stated on their packaging; and that the main side of their labeling didn’t list the percentage of caseinates (milk proteins) used in their production.
The cheese brands whose sale has been banned are Fud, Nochebuena, Premier Plus Cuadritos, Zwan, Caperucita, Burr, Precissimo, Frankli, Selecto Brand, Galbani, Lala, El Parral, Portales, Walter, Sargento, Cremeria Covadonga, Aurrera and Philadelphia (original and light).
With regard to “natural yogurt,” the breaches were the addition of sugar and non-compliance with the minimum required quantity of milk. The banned brands are Danone Bene Gastro and Danone Natural.
The SE said the companies that make the banned cheeses and yogurts will be fined in addition to having the sale of their products banned.
Profeco chief Ricardo Sheffield told the newspaper Milenio that the agency he heads has initiated legal proceedings against Danone for deceitful advertising of its Bene Gastro yogurt. He said the name of the product implies that it is good for the gastrointestinal system whereas due to its significant corn syrup content it is in fact not good.
“It could even be damaging to health,” he said, adding that the legal battle against Danone will likely end up in court.
More legal battles could be looming as two manufacturers have challenged the results of the lab tests.
The manufacturer of Philadelphia cream cheese asserted that the decision to ban its products is “unfounded.”
Mondelēz México said in a statement that it has evidence that quality studies carried out by Profeco’s national laboratory in September found that Philadelphia cheese met all required standards.
The company said the Economy Ministry’s order to the National Association of Supermarkets and Department Stores to withdraw its cream cheese products caused it “surprise” and “bewilderment” because it is “totally unfounded and harms the reputation of our brand.”
Grupo Lala, meanwhile, rejected the findings with respect to its sliced, lactose-free Manchego cheese, insisting that the product is made with 100% milk.