In Argentina there is no food labeling system established by law that informs consumers clearly, truthfully and simply what it is that we are consuming. Front warning labeling with black octagons provides straightforward information that allows consumers to quickly and easily identify products that contain excess amounts of critical nutrients.
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There are different types of front labeling. Scientific evidence, free of conflicts of interest, has clearly shown that warning labeling on the front of the container is the best regulatory option to facilitate decisions that protect health. Recently, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Püras, issued a statement in which he urged States not to remain passive in the face of Chronic Noncommunicable Diseases -ECNT- and to address in a proactive and comprehensive manner preventable risk factors related to CNCDs and specified in a specific public health regulatory measure, such as frontal warning labeling, characterized as an effective intervention to protect public health.
Why is it necessary that the implementation of labeling occurs through a binding law and not through self-regulation? Self-regulation and voluntary commitments, in general, have not obtained satisfactory results. Evidence has clearly shown that industry self-regulation does not work, generally self-regulatory codes include weak and therefore ineffective restriction guidelines. Furthermore, their participation is voluntary and there are no monitoring, sanctions or supervision mechanisms. In this framework, the promotion of self-regulation also functions as an obstacle for the promotion of public policies and should be avoided by governments.
For their part, conflicts of interest refer to situations in which there is a confrontation between the public interest and a private interest that could unduly influence the adoption of a policy. In this case, it is the existence of interests unrelated to public health that prevent decisions from being made or actions aimed at protecting health from being carried out. With this criterion, organizations linked to the food industry should be excluded from decision-making spaces both locally and globally. Likewise, in order to protect decision-making spaces in matters of public health, transparency must be ensured. It is essential to have information about the people and institutions involved.
The State has the duty and obligation to guarantee, protect and respect the right to health and adequate food. The experiences in countries such as Chile, Peru, Uruguay and -recently- Mexico show that it is possible to advance in evidence-based measures that address the specific needs of our countries and prioritize the human right to health and food. adequate.