Mexican Authorities Remove Foodstuff Products Due to NOM 051 Labeling Requirements Non-Compliance

19 April 2022 Legal News: International Publication
Author(s): Nathan A. Beaver Marcos Carrasco Menchaca Alejandro N Gomez-Strozzi Marco Antonio Najera Martinez Erika Padilla

The Mexican Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) and the Federal Consumer Prosecutor's Office (Profeco) removed more than 10,000 units of domestic and imported foodstuff products that were displayed in supermarkets for non-compliance with frontal food labeling requirements implemented in 2020. More than 80 well-known products were found in violation of labeling requirements pursuant to Cofepris, such as chocolates (including powders), cookies, cereals, syrups, jellies, sauces, flavored milks, snacks, sodas, fish, seafood, seasonings, marmalades, and others.

In 2020, new labeling requirements became mandatory for all pre-packaged, non-alcoholic foodstuffs and beverages sold in Mexico, regardless of their country of origin, as a result of amendments to the mandatory Mexican Standard “NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010, General Labeling Specifications for Pre-packaged, Non-alcoholic Foodstuffs and Beverages. Commercial and Sanitary Information” (NOM 051) published on March 27, 2020. Please see Foley’s previous coverage of this by clicking here.

Current requirements include an additional stamp warning system with placement on the front side of packaging, in addition to the previously existing nutritional labeling requirements. This additional labeling is aimed at preventing the risk of overconsuming certain ingredients (sodium, added sugars, saturated fat, and other nutrients as determined by NOM 051) which, when ingested in excess, are considered risk factors associated with chronic, non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

The stamp warning system must be used when pre-packaged products (i) contain added free sugars, fats, or sodium, and when (ii) the value content of free sugars, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium exceed the values foreseen in NOM 051.

When above qualifiers are present, the stamp warning system must be used in accordance with the following labeling (to be located in the upper right-hand front cover and of specified dimensions):

Excess calories / Excess sugar / Excess saturated fats /Excess trans fats / Excess sodium

For small packaging, the following stamp warning system should be used as per the number of warning seals applicable to the product:

In addition, whenever sweeteners and/or caffeine are added in any quantity, products must include the labeling to signal they are not recommended for children (sweeteners), or should be avoided by children (caffeine).

The following bans have also been set related to additional promotion/marketing of products containing one or more of the aforementioned warning seals:

  • They may not contain endorsements by professional associations; and
  • They may not market through consumption-promoting characters, drawings, celebrities, gifts, offers, toys or contests, offers related to price or content, visual-spatial games, or announcements of social networks.

Our life sciences, food & beverage, consumer protection, foreign trade, administrative law and litigation teams in Foley´s Mexico City office have extensive experience assisting clients in reviewing compliance with the labeling requirements and defending them from the removals made by Cofepris and Profeco applicable to products being sold in or imported into Mexico.

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