On January 21, 2020, the Federal Economic Competition Commission (“COFECE”) issued an opinion with respect to the draft “Modification of Official Mexican Standard NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010, General Labelling Specifications for Pre-Packaged Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages – Commercial and Health Information” (“Draft”), in which it provides recommendations so that the standard would contemplate providing information to consumers which would allow them to make better decisions and improve competitiveness among companies in these markets.
The Draft proposes to regulate the front labels of pre-packaged food and non-alcoholic beverages in the following aspects:
- a) Require that the front label of products which exceed certain nutritional levels with respect to caloric content and the percentage of added sugar, fat, and sodium contain a warning stating that they exceed such limits.
- b) Prohibit wording giving nutritional content and health information about the product when the product contains an indication that permitted limits are exceeded.
- c) Prohibit the use of persons, drawings, celebrities, gifts, games or contests, offers related to price or content, visual-spatial games, or advertisements on social networks of products which contain an indication that permitted limits are exceeded.
With respect to this, the COFECE issued the following three recommendations applicable to products which exceed the caloric content or percentage of added sugar, fat, and sodium thresholds:
- a) That the standard allow including wording about nutritional information on the label for which reason the creation of an information authorization system might be considered which would allow the consuming public to differentiate among products.
- b) The possibility that products could have an authorization to highlight that they are endorsed by professional associations or societies.
- c) Hold open the possibility that companies might use persons, drawings, celebrities, gifts, games or contests, offers related to price or content, visual-spatial games, or advertisements on social networks of a product for the purpose of maintaining competitive ability among those offering the product.
The foregoing is for the purpose of encouraging competition in the market even though the products exceed the limits contemplated in the standard, thus allowing consumers to have the information necessary to decide among the variety of products offered and allowing the consuming public to differentiate among products.
The Competition and Antitrust Practice of the firm will be pleased to provide any additional information on the topic.
Mexico City, January 27th, 2020.