The detailed norms govern production, definition, labeling and distribution of the products and prohibit the classification and labeling of raw, reconstituted and recombined milk as natural.
“With this law, people will be able to see what product they are consuming on the package, if it is natural or reconstituted milk and its origin,” said Senator Manuel Jose Ossandon, a proponent of the initiative, in a press release. “This will improve transparency and traceability, that is, where the milking is done and the sanitary mechanisms applied.”
As defined by Article 198 of the Ministry of Health’s Food Health Regulations, milk is “the normal breast secretion free of colostrum, from dairy animals, obtained by one or more milkings, without any type of addition or extraction, intended for consumption in the form of liquid milk or for further processing.”
Milk that is not produced by cows, and its derived products, must include the name of the species they come from. Products that are not of animal origin, including almond, soy or other alternatives are not included in the definition.
“We absolutely agree with and share the motion,” said Eduardo Schwerter, president of FEDELECHE, the national federation of milk producers, in a press release. “We believe that they are very different products.”
Front-of-package labels must indicate the name and nature of liquid or powdered milk and whether a mixture of different types of milk. Additionally, the countries of milking and the name and address of the manufacturer or importer of the milk must be clearly marked.
Although the initiative spent over two years in the legislative process, President Sebastian Piñera is expected to sign and pass it into law later this month. The industry will have a period of nine months to implement the changes, and sanctions apply.
“By not using natural words for milks that are not, this will protect consumers, and consumers will know that what they are actually buying is what they wanted,” said Michel Junod, head of the Trade Association of Milk Producers of Osorno (Aproleche).
Chile is no stranger to rigorous food labeling regulations. In 2016, it became the first country in the world to pass a comprehensive “Food Labeling Law” to address the soaring obesity rates and protect children in the country.
Not only did the innovative law require front-of-package warning labels about “high in” content of calories, saturated fat, sugar and sodium but restricted food sales at schools and surrounding areas, as well as advertising of certain foods “high in” harmful ingredients to children under the age of 14 – removing, for example, images of Tony the Tiger, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus from packaging.