Warning labels work in Yucatán: Snack sales down 20%

The Mexican's black octogons warning against excess fat, salt and sugar have worked. Sales are down for snack companies. Photo: Contributed
The Mexican’s black octogons warning against excess fat, salt and sugar have worked. Sales are down for snack companies. Photo: Contributed

Mexico’s labeling laws that mandate stark health warnings about calories and fat have apparently made some snack and soda purchasers think twice.

The General Health Law on labeling, which began last year, has hurt the bottom line of Yucatecan snack-food companies such as Dondé by 20%, said a business chamber leader, Alberto Abraham Xacur.

Black octagons with white all-caps letters appear on packaging containing sodas, chips and cookies that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, calories, sugar or sodium.

Abraham Xacur said he hopes the labels will scare consumers less over time. Meanwhile, the labels have prompted snack producers to rethink their ingredients.

“Rather than complain or establish protections against this new measure, companies are carrying out new production processes to lower the sugar content in some grammages,” said Abraham Xacur.

The law, which went into effect Oct. 1, also banned cartoon characters, celebrities and athletes from appearing on junk-food packaging.

The measure aims to curb obesity, diabetes, heart disease — all of which are rampant in Yucatán. Those health ills have also been factors that make it harder for COVID-19 patients to recover.

In Chile, where a similar law was passed years ago, sugar consumption dropped by 25%.

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