The National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) opened the public consultation on food labeling on 23rd September 2019. ANVISA, a regulatory body of the Brazilian government, unveiled that a core goal of the review is to gather consumer understanding on nutritional information.
Public consultation aims
The public consultation, which will close after 45 days on 6th November 2019, will explore current Brazilian labeling standards. Published in the Official Gazette (DOU), it seeks to gain comments and insights on whether nutrition data on labels needs to increase in visibility and readability. And whether in dong so, this will enable consumers to improve understanding and promote product comparability without the need for calculations.
The overall objective of the public consultation is to develop and enhance the amount of information available on nutrition to improve the accuracy of food industry values. Consumers prioritize safety and quality, and so, transparency and clarity are vital to ensuring awareness of, and adherence to, these values.
Nutritional labeling considerations outlined in the public consultation consist of (CP 707) and (CP 708). CP 707 focuses on the Resolution of the Collegiate Board (RDC) proposal centering on tools to help consumers when selecting packaged foods. CP 708 relates to aligning the content of the Normative Instruction (IN) with the technical declaration requirements for nutritional labeling in these specific foods by these industries.
How do people engage with nutrition labeling?
"We want to ensure the best information for citizens to decide what they will consume. That is why all the changes that have been made to the labelling proposal are intended to deliver to the Brazilian citizen very clearly what they need to know before consuming a product,” emphasizes Alessandra Bastos, Director, ANVISA.
Anvisa's General Food Management (GGALI) highlights the importance of public consultations in encouraging and enabling social participation in the regulatory process of nutrition labeling standards review.
Hailed as the “largest-ever” regulatory process on food labeling, ANVISA has, to date, engaged in meetings, a technical panel, Regulatory Impact Analysis (AIR), Public Grants Making (TPS) and Sector Dialogues.
As Brazil makes progress towards adopting front-of-pack nutrition labels on food products, ANVISA has drafted a front-of-pack nutrition warning that is now open to feedback and suggestions from the public.
ANVISA nutrition labeling suggestions
The mandatory labeling model, if introduced, will apply to foods with high added sugar, saturated fat or sodium. These ingredients are strongly linked to detrimental health risks prevalent in Brazil such as chronic non-communicable diseases that include cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes.
1. Magnifying glass
The favored system ANVISA has selected is of an image of a magnifying glass that indicates that the food contains added sugar, saturated fat or sodium in the ingredients that are equal to or above the defined limits. The magnifying glass would appear on the front of the label in the upper half of the packaging.
ANVISA will identify the ingredient limit levels that indicate whether a food item is equal to, or above, defined limits, in two steps over a period of 42 months. Following this limit-setting period of three and a half years, the full implementation of the measure should take place.
2. Font size
The agency suggests that to communicate nutritional information clearly, food manufacturers should use large fonts on the nutrition labeling to indicate the high content of these ingredients.
3. Nutrient contents
Currently, the existing portioned statement outlines calories, fat and vitamins per serving of food. In addition to this statement, ANVISA also advises including a nutrition table, based on the standardized declaration of nutritional information per 100 grams (g) or 100 milliliters (ml).
Portion information is also a key element of nutritional labeling recommendations for food, as ANVISA suggests including the number of portions per product package on foodstuffs.
The Brazilian Institute of Consumer Protection (Idec) states that the magnifying glass model put forward by ANVISA lacks scientific evidence. The organization is, therefore, awaiting a final Regulatory Impact analysis. As a result, Idec suggests the most appropriate model would be to present the nutrients in the shape of triangles to alert consumers easily.
At the end of the public consultation, ANVISA will go through all responses. Before selecting the model to implement, it will consider liaising with entities and contributors to invite them to provide further input on technical discussions to support the overall final deliberation among the Board of Directors.