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Codex committee started negotiations on front-of-pack nutrition labelling

20 May 2019

In the week of the 13 May 2019, the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL) began formal negotiations on guiding principles for the development of front-of-pack nutrition labelling (FOPNL) in Ottawa, Canada. El poder del Consumidor, our Mexican member, represented Consumers International.

FOPNL aims to support consumers to make food choices that support a healthy diet. Through a standardised presentation of information, it allows consumers to compare foods and make informed choices.

At the Ottawa meeting, approximately 250 representatives from 60 national governments, dozens of food industry associations, and a handful of officially recognized health and consumer groups convened to significantly advance a process that began in May 2016.

Consumers International, along with other public health and consumer rights organisations, signed a statement setting out recommendations for the development of Codex front-of-pack guidelines that:

 

  • Are government mandated.

  • Support the right to health.

  • Are aligned with World Health Organization recommendations.

  • Protect a country’s ability to develop a FOPNL that is suitable to that country’s needs and responsive to their disease burdens

  • Protect against conflict of interest.

Codex standards are important as they can be used to resolve trade disputes between countries at the World Trade Organization. If a new policy is aligned with Codex standards it is much harder for another country to successfully challenge it.

 This meeting kicked off the formal negotiation of the FOPNL guidelines, that will now be further consulted online, before another meeting in 18 months that will negotiate the final text. El poder del Consumidor provided us with feedback on the meeting, and stated that whilst there was consensus at the meeting that high-in warning labels should be considered FOPNL, as we had advocated for, other issues such as the inclusion of NCD's in the purpose FOPNL received less support. However, this could all still change over the coming months.

For now, we await the report of the meeting that Codex will publish in a few months, as well as the updated document on the FOPNL guidelines that will be disseminated for review.