• Regulatory Compliance Dates
  • Changes in New Regulation
  • Effects on Sweeteners and Caffeine

Beginning October 1st, 2020, Mexico’s food labeling regulation NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010 changes go into effect. This revised standard affects a number of the elements of a compliant food or beverage label for the Mexican market. In this updated standard, the Nutrition Facts table format is now more clearly defined, definitions are clarified for specific terms, Front-of-Pack Labeling requirements have changed, and label compliance must be confirmed by an approved Verification Unit authority.

Regulatory Compliance Dates

A “NOM” is an official Mexican standard or regulation issued by a government body. “SCFI” is the acronym assigned to the Ministry that issues a specific standard which in this case was by the Secretary of Economy as part of the Industrial Hygiene sector (designated as “SS”). This standard also includes commercial sanitization information in addition to labeling requirements. NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010, General Labeling Requirements for Pre-Packaged Non-Alcoholic Food and Beverages revisions were originally published on March 27, 2020, to allow industry time to develop plans and actions needed to be in compliance for this month’s effective date. Food and beverage labels in Mexico, including foodservice, can be compliant to the revised standard prior to October 1st, but they must be compliant as of that date. The Mexican government has stated that they will not physically verify label compliance until April 1st, 2021. They will allow the use of stickers or decals until March 1, 2021, to allow companies to implement more permanent measures. Compliant to the Front of Pack Warning Seal requirements will have a phased-in approach, with final compliance by October 1, 2025.

Changes in New Regulation

One big change in the updated standards is the clear definition for nutritional terms that significantly impact the resulting Nutrition Facts calculations and declarations. The affected definitions in the standard include the following: added sugars, free sugars, sweeteners, and trans fat, complimentary nutritional information, critical nutrients (those with risk factors), imitation products, seals and front of pack labeling. In addition to term definitions, many definitions are also clarified such as the requirements for official use of the “NOM” logo, allergen declaration format changes, and clear graphical formats for Nutrition Facts information as well as front-of-pack warning seals.

The mandatory nutrients required to be in the Mexico compliant Nutrition Facts table are defined as energy, protein, available carbohydrates (which now includes sugars and added sugars), total fats (which now consists of saturated fat and trans fat), dietary fiber, sodium, and any other nutrient which a claim is made on the label. Conversion facts to be used for energy content calculations are specified as they differ from other countries. If values for certain nutrients exceed defined risk levels, this will trigger the need for a warning seal on the front-of-pack indicating the presence of those risk nutrients, now defined in the standard.

What are the critical nutrients that will trigger the need for a warning seal? Energy, sugars, trans fat, saturated fat, and sodium are the identified culprits that have defined limits per 100g or per 100mL, and the required warning statements are provided in the updated standard. This portion of the regulation change will be rolled out in three phases, allowing the industry sufficient time to properly evaluate and label foods and beverages. In the first three years of implementation, foods with added sugars, added fats, and added sodium must be compliant. Over the next two years, the free sugars criteria are lowered and the beverage exemption becomes more stringent. In the final year until 2025 implementation, all products that exceed the defined levels for all critical nutrients must contain the required warning seals on the specified label locations in the defined size and format.

Additional Requirements

In addition to the warning seal requirement, there are also precautionary warning statements defined for products that contain caffeine and sweeteners and limits on advertising of food with sweetener warnings in order to reduce sugar consumption in Mexico, which is highlighted as a major health concern.

The final step in demonstrating compliance with the revised standard has also been specified by the changes. The verification of compliance to the standard must be conducted by accredited and Ministry approved bodies called Verification Units. The list of approved units for each Mexico standard is on the ministry website for reference (View Approved Units). Once a Verification Unit completes a visual inspection of the prepackaged product against the requirements, they may issue an authorized document called a Costanzia de Conformity to demonstrate acceptability.

What Can Mérieux NutriSciences Do for You?

There are a large number of changes in this updated Mexico standard on top of the existing requirements. If you find yourself still confused after reading this article and the updated regulation, contact our Labeling Compliance and Nutrition Services team. Our regulatory specialists can help you with your food and beverage label compliance needs, from nutrition label creation to formulation evaluation to product label reviews. Let us help you with your food labeling needs.

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