Mexico has a new scheme for front-of-package labeling.
Take, for example, this label for Coca-Cola’s “green” Life drink, sweetened with sugar and Stevia.
The label says:
The asterisks take you to this explanation:
**Of the daily nutrients recommended based on a diet of 2000 calories
Huh? Since when is sugar intake recommended? Since when does 9 grams equal 10% of a recommended amount?
How is it possible that Mexico set a daily standard intake (equivalent to our Daily Value) of 90 grams (!)—nearly twice as much as the amount recommended as an upper limit by the World Health Organization and many other international health authorities?
The answer: food politics, of course.
Most international health agencies recommend an upper limit for added sugars of 10% of calories (50 grams for a 2000-calorie diet). They consider 5% (25 grams) even better for health and especially for dental health.
The Mexican label covers total sugars. This hides the copious amounts added by food companies. All of the sugar in Coca-Cola Life is added.
How did this happen? From what I’ve heard,
- Mexican public health authorities were not consulted about this standard.
- Although public health scientists filed well-documented objections, these were ignored.
- Critics are now under a gag order. If they work for the government, they are not allowed to criticize the sugar label.
Officials of the Ministry of Health and the Mexican equivalent of the FDA have close ties to food companies. They produced this label in collaboration with the food industry, with no input from independent public health experts.
For a country that leads the world in obesity prevention policies, this label is a huge embarrassment. It should be fixed, immediately.
Ecuador, on the other hand, is using this front-of-package label. Wouldn’t it be helpful if everyone did?