Enabling consumer-friendly front-of-package nutrition labelling in MERCOSUR countries
Front-of-package (FOP) food labels have been recommended by the World Health Organization and public health experts worldwide as an effective measure to strengthen understanding of nutritional information and help consumers make healthy choices. This project, implemented in partnership with the Fundación Interamericana del Corazón-Argentina and the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection, will develop a sound evidence base for the promotion of effective FOP food labelling systems in Argentina and Brazil. The current political context presents an opportunity to move forward with policy discussions. However, interested stakeholders need to have a better understanding of the legal and economic implications under the current regional and international economic agreements in place.
The aim of this multi-component research study is to promote effective evidence-based mandatory FOP food labelling systems in Brazil and Argentina, support policy discussions, and assess the factors affecting its adoption in other MERCOSUR countries (full members Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay; suspended member Venezuela; and associate states Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru). This research will study the regulatory and policy frameworks, analyze to what extent gender dimensions are considered, assess the political facilitators and barriers affecting the introduction of a FOP labelling system, analyze the arguments used by superior legal courts of products that can pose risks to public health (such as tobacco or asbestos), and assess the arguments used by the food industry to hinder the promotion of FOP labelling.
In Brazil, the national regulatory health agency is already considering novel FOP food labelling alternatives. In Argentina, the project team will work with strategic stakeholders to assess the most suitable FOP labelling system. The project will enable a process of inter-country and multi-actor collaboration and increase regional capacities in this domain. Expected research outcomes include: evidence-based legal and technical recommendations to promote FOP food labelling systems in the MERCOSUR countries; extrapolating legal arguments used in other public health cases for food labelling policy discussions; developing commonly-agreed counterarguments to those presented by the food industry in policy processes in the region; and the determination of the most suitable FOP labelling system in Argentina.