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Food Policy Grocery Health Packaged Food Sweets

Mexico’s New Junk Food Labels Face Fierce Opposition From U.S., Other World Powers

In October 2020, Mexico is poised to take a monumental step forward to combat junk food and obesity issues the country faces. Already, black octagon labels are showing up on the front packaging of food products that warn of foods with excessive calories, sugar, salt, and saturated or trans fat.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

These labels are designed to meet requirements the Mexican government will enforce starting in October: requirements that, apparently, the US and other world powers oppose.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

According to Reuters, a meeting minutes document from the World Trade Organization shows the US, Canada, the European Union, and Switzerland trying to persuade Mexico to delay their labeling enforcement for anywhere from 1-2 years.

The United States, for example, expressed support to combat obesity, but thinks the regulations are “more trade restrictive than necessary to meet Mexico’s legitimate health objectives,” arguing that “Mexico has chosen more stringent nutrient thresholds than the thresholds set by other countries.”

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

All of the countries supported a delay, with reasoning behind it being the impact of COVID-19 on the food and beverage industry. A Mexican government official told Reuters that they objected to delaying the rules.

Laws that combat obesity and reveal high-calorie and junk foods are gaining more traction globally. Chile was one of the first to introduce such laws in 2016, and saw a reduction in the consumption of sugary drinks by 23%. Some American cities, including Berkeley, have also implemented sugar taxes in recent years that showed similar results. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also found that regulations such as these are instrumental in reducing obesity globally.

The United States itself has food labeling regulations that require added sugars to be marked in the Nutrition Facts, but the Trump Administration’s FDA has indefinitely delayed enforcement of the labels.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

Lobbyist groups from both the United States and Canada have also put pressure on Mexico for these laws in the past. Mexico first passed the legislation in October of 2019, giving the industry a year to make the labeling changes.

Initial rules in the now-ratified US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would have prevented any front-of-packaging labeling of the sort to be issued. While this did not make it into the final agreement following media attention to the rules, the finalized version still has a clause that “technical regulations concerning labels… do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.”

The United States is a known bully when it comes to food packaging labeling, having challenged multiple countries over their laws in the past, claiming them to be a threat to US trade and business interests. According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA officials criticized multiple countries for such regulations in their most recent National Trade Estimate report.

Canada, who has its own front-of-packaging law, is already facing such challenges from US and Canadian lobbyist groups over its rules.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

Combatting junk food through labeling has already proven to have a significant effect in reducing obesity. Mexico is taking a stronger approach than most countries, including local trading partners like the US, with its new regulations, leading to such political pressure.

We’ll have to see if any more challenges come to Mexico’s legislation as the October enforcement of the labeling draws nearer.

Categories
Food Policy Grocery

Why Expiration Dates On Food Labels Don’t Matter As Much As You Think

Photo: Shutterstock // Eldar Nurkovic

Turns out, you’ve been throwing away perfectly good food.

I used to take expiration dates very seriously. I froze my ground beef before the “Use By” date and if my milk’s “Best If Used By” date was yesterday, I’d toss it. The boxed stuffing mix that expired last month? In the garbage. But after researching the different types of “expiration” labels, I learned that food actually lasts longer than I thought. (But these foods last forever.)

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food expiration dates refer to food quality, not food safety. Federal regulations do not require that expiration dates be put on meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, cans and boxed foods (baby formula is the only product that requires an expiration date). They are added as a helpful guide to consumers and retailers. Here are the three most common labels:

  • Best if Used By – This date suggests when a product will be at peak quality. It will still be safe to consume after that date, but the flavor and texture quality will start to go down.
  • Use By – This date is usually found on more perishable items, like meat. It’s still okay to consume the product for a short period after the date, but don’t wait too long.
  • Sell By – This date tells retailers when the product should be off the shelves. Sales are one way grocery stores try to get older inventory into consumers’ carts, and it’s usually pretty effective.

“Use by” dates are a great guide for people like you and me, but it comes at a price. A USDA report states that Americans waste about 30% of food every year. Part of that is because we follow expiration dates too closely and end up throwing out perfectly good food. It’s such a shame. Luckily, we can change.

Use your best judgment to determine whether or not food should be tossed. Instead of looking at the date, look at the actual food. Does the color look right? Is the odor funky? Has the texture changed? Knowing what food is supposed to look, smell, and feel like is a life skill we all should know. It will stop you from eating food that’s gone bad and it will prevent you from tossing food too early.

Even More Expiration Date Articles:

  1. The Secret Meaning Behind the Numbers on Your Egg Carton
  2. The Secret Meaning Behind the Color of Your Bread Bag’s Twist Tie
  3. Here’s How Long Your Fresh Produce Will Really Last
  4. Foods You Never Knew Had an Expiration Date
  5. Here’s How Long Your Milk REALLY Lasts

Related Links:


Article by Emily Racette Parulski for Taste of Home. View the original article here.

Categories
Health

Here’s What 2,000 Calories Actually Looks Like

2000-calories
We’ve already been stung with the harsh reality of what 200 calories really looks like. A few Hershey’s Kisses, a spoonful of peanut butter — they’re teeny tiny portions. But since the folks over at Wise Geek introduced the concept, it might as well be taken a step further, right? You betcha!

Taking a cue from Wise Geek’s findings, BuzzFeed created this informative but pretty surprising video showing what constitutes 2,000 calories. While it might be easy to avoid eating 26 eggs or 50 slabs of bacon (debatable), it only takes 2.27 Cinnabons, 3.8 Big Macs and 2 Chipotle burritos to reach that 2,000 mark. Woof.

But all healthy thinking aside, sometimes we’ve just gotta indulge, man! Just don’t go for the Cinnabons, Big Macs and burritos all at once. It might do some funky things to your stomach.

Check out the video to see 2,000 calories visualized:

H/T + PicThx Buzzfeed