Peru's Healthy Eating Act: Regulations to Be Published this Week

Peru's Healthy Eating Act: Regulations to Be Published this Week

Translated by Mike Dreckschmidt

The law is directed at protecting children and adolescents from obesity and dictates that warnings must be placed on products that contain high levels of saturated sugar, sodium, and fat.

Yesterday, during the session of the Congressional Consumer Protection Commission, Patricia Garcí­a, Minister of Health, announced that the regulations of Law 30021 – Law for the Promotion of Healthy Eating for Children and Adolescents – will be published this week after four years since it was first put forth.

Since 2013, the industrial sector has criticized the implementation of the law because some companies did not feel that the technical parameters proposed in the regulation were justified. These parameters, which were taken from the nutrient profile of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), establish the amounts of sugar, sodium and saturated fats that should require a product to have a warning on their label.

Raúl Gonzí¡lez, a representative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) / World Health Organization (WHO) in Peru, said that the required nutrient profile mentioned was prepared by a committee of experts in Washington, where WHO documentation and the worldwide literature on sugar concentration, salt concentration, and food safety were reviewed.

“The PAHO technical parameters in the Americas region have been used in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, El Salvador and Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, and Chile. They have developed their own parameters but all are in line with the nutrient profile,” he explains.

According to the specialist, the reason these guidelines have been used in a number of countries responds to the cost incurred to states for diseases associated with obesity such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular problems.

“What is the cost of obesity for governments? – about US$ 2 trillion – similar to the cost of smoking or armed violence … Public interest should weigh more than private interest,” he says.

According to Gonzí¡lez, in the last ten years in Peru and Latin America, the sale of ultra-processed products has increased by *100% and 48%, respectively. “There are studies that correlate the sale and consumption of ultra-processed foods with the degree of obesity,” he says.

He adds that the soft drinks contain a high amount of salt to compensate the sugar that is required in their elaboration. “These differences are so great that they require legislation and a regulatory framework to know what risks we take when we consume these ultra-processed products,” he says.

Associations such as the Association of Bodegueros, the Association of Beverage and Soft Drinks Industry (Abresa) and the National Industry Society (SNI), have expressed their concern about the impact of the law on the economy. According to Andrés Choy, of the Association of Bodegueros del Perú, this regulation would translate into a reduction of more than 60% of the sales of the sector.

In this regard, Gonzí¡lez assures that companies have adapted in the countries in which the norm has been applied. “At first, there were protests, because it was said that the [tobacco] industry was going to be ruined because it was prohibited to smoke inside public premises [and it was not].” he says.

Source: El Comercio

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