Argentinian deputy Gisela Scaglia, a member of the Union Pro party, filed the draft law earlier this month (November 5).
The purpose of front-of-pack nutrition labeling is to provide the consumer a truthful, simple and clear indication of the nutritional content of foods to make decision-making easier, it says.
Although the rapporteur Gisela Scaglia calls Chile a “pioneer” because of the warning-style nutrition label it introduced in order to combat obesity, her draft bill does not favor one nutrition label in particular.
“Although there are several informational frontal labeling systems for food (warning system, simplified traffic light, 5-Nutri-Score and the keyhole system, among others), this bill does not stipulate a particular system, rather the obligation of front-of-pack information,” reads the draft bill. “It will be the Application Authority who will decide the shape, size, colors, signage and content of the food labels.”
The nutrition label would appear on food and drink packaging in addition to the ingredients list and nutritional information. The proposed law also seeks to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and drink. Products that exceed certain thresholds high in salt, sugar and fat would not be allowed to offer free toys or two-for-one deals.
“Today, many children choose to eat products because of the merchandise they give and that is highly dangerous,” she said.
Scaglia, who has also presented a draft law to promote breastfeeding and responsible consumption of infant formula, said this law would complement other legislation already in force in Argentina that aim to promote healthy diet, such as the Argentine Food Code, the law on prevention of cardiovascular diseases and the National Strategy for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases.
FIC: Urgent measures needed
According to the InterAmerican Heart Foundation of Argentina (FIC Argentina), however, the South American country lacks a comprehensive regulatory framework to tackle overweight and obesity.
The National Survey of Risk Factors carried out in 2018 showed that 66.1% of the adult population in Argentina is overweight and, of these, 32.4% are obese. Meanwhile, 13.6% of children under five years old and 41.1% of individuals aged between 5 and 17 carry excess weight.
"The state must urgently implement a series of measures that guarantee access to healthy food and reduce the consumption of low nutritional quality products," Lorena Allemandi, director of food at FIC Argentina said last week on World Obesity Day (12 November). "We hope that the new government will design measures that focus on malnutrition and the most vulnerable sectors, who suffer most from this problem."
According to the non-profit health organization, there is a raft of recommended policies to control and stop obesity and improve food environments, one of which is front-of-pack labeling.
Earlier this year, Adolfo Rubinstein, Argentina’s health minister under Maurcio Macri’s government, said the country was considering a hybrid nutrition label that would incorporate elements of the Guideline Daily Amount model and color codes.