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New front-of-package warning seals and other labelling changes for foods and non-alcoholic beverages for retail sale in Mexico

Amendments to the Mexican Official Standard (Norma Official Mexicana) NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010

Important update for Canadian exporters to Mexico

Changes were recently made to the procedures Mexican importers must follow in order to exempt shipments of food products not for retail sale (e.g., bulk products, food destined for food service industry) from the requirements of Mexican Official Standard: NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010. NOM-051 regulates the labelling of pre-packaged foods and non-alcoholic beverages for retail sale in Mexico (including imported products).

Until October 1, 2020, Mexican companies importing food products in bulk or for processing, wholesale and/or foodservice purposes (i.e., not for retail sale) were able to obtain an exemption for these shipments from compliance with the NOM-051 by presenting a letter under oath (an exemption letter) to customs authorities. As of October 1, 2020, the Mexican Ministry of Economy (ECONOMIA) is no longer allowing Mexican importers to use these exemption letters as a means to exempt imported food shipments from the requirements of NOM-051.

Note that notwithstanding this sudden change, Mexican importers and customs brokers report to be using other instruments available to them to request exemptions from NOM-051. These include:

Recommended actions for Canadian exporters

We strongly recommend that Canadian exporters of any food product (consumer packaged, bulk) to Mexico reach out to their Mexican importers to confirm the current status of any shipments of food products being imported into Mexico.

Canadian exporters can reach out to the following Canadian Trade Commissioners if they or their Mexican partners are experiencing any issues importing their products due to this or any other development:

Francis Lindsay - Agricultural Trade Commissioner
Email: francis.lindsay@international.gc.ca

Alejandro Ruiz - Trade Commissioner (Agri-food)
Email: alejandro.ruiz@international.gc.ca

Note: The amended NOM-051 was originally scheduled to come into effect on October 1, 2020, but the Mexican government announced a 2-month extension to the transition period for the first stage to December 1, 2020. If they choose to do so, companies can start labelling their products according to the amended NOM-051 without having to wait until December 1, 2020.

The announcement did not indicate any changes to the enforcement dates of the other two stages.

Overview of Mexico's front-of-package labelling changes

Mexico has recently amended NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010, with changes coming in the form of new front-of-package warning seals and labels. The labelling changes are mandatory for both domestic and imported products, and the first stage includes major changes and will begin on December 1, 2020.

These changes aim to encourage Mexicans to adopt a healthier diet. The new requirements will be implemented in three stages with the first stage beginning on December 1, 2020, the second stage on October 1, 2023, and the third stage on October 1, 2025.

To avoid having your food products and non-alcoholic beverages removed from Mexican shelves or not allowed to be sold in Mexico as of December 1, 2020:

Summary of some of the new labelling requirements

Below is a summary of some of the new labelling requirements. Canadian exporters are strongly encouraged to review all requirements in the Full Text of the amended NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010, PDF, in Spanish only.

Note: In the event of discrepancies between this summary and the amendment to NOM-051 as published in Spanish, the Spanish shall prevail.

Octagonal black warning seals

As of December 1, 2020, black, octagonal-shaped warning seals will be required to appear in the front-of-package of foods and non-alcoholic beverages that have added sodium, trans fats, sugars or saturated fats, and exceed certain pre-established thresholds.

Below is an example of the octagonal black seals to caution consumers that products contain an "excess" of these components, and the location where these seals are expected to appear. Please note that the size and location of the seals could change depending on the package.

Description of above image

A series of five, separate, black octagonal seals in Spanish, with text noting "Excess calories", "Excess sodium", "Excess trans fats", "Excess sugars", and "Excess saturated fats". Underneath each octagon is the text "Secretaría de Salud", which is the Mexican Secretary of Health.

Description of above image

A grey box, representing a food package, with a three of the above octagonal warning seals placed on the front of the package in the top-right. The seals are not readable from the image and are included for illustration purposes.

Specific provisions related to the octagonal warning signs:

New thresholds for certain nutrients

The following tables outline the thresholds to be applied during the three stages of enforcement. In some cases such as energy and sodium, the thresholds become stricter from one stage to the next. Canadian exporters are therefore encouraged to consult the tables of thresholds to be applied at each stage.

Thresholds that determine when black seals must be included on labels during stage 1
Period of enforcement - December 1, 2020 to September 30, 2023
Energy Sugars Saturated Fats Trans Fats Sodium
Solids in 100 g of product ≥275 total kcal ≥10 % of the total energy coming from free sugars.
Beverages with <10 kcal of free sugars are exempted from the seal
≥10 % of the total energy coming from saturated fats ≥1 % of the total energy coming from trans fats ≥350 mg
Calorie-free beverages: ≥45 mg
Liquids in 100 ml of product ≥70 total kcal
or
≥10 kcal of free sugars
Legend to use EXCESO CALORÍAS (Excess of Calories) EXCESO AZÚCARES (Excess of Sugars) EXCESO GRASAS SATURADAS (Excess of Saturated Fats) EXCESO GRASAS TRANS (Excess of Trans Fats) EXCESO SODIO (Excess of Sodium)

Note:

  1. If sugars are added during the production process, then sugars and calories must be evaluated.
  2. If fats are added during the production process, then saturated fats, trans fats and calories must be evaluated.
  3. If sodium is added during the production process, then only sodium must be evaluated.
Thresholds that determine when black seals must be included on labels during stage 2
Period of enforcement - October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2025
Energy Sugars Saturated Fats Trans Fats Sodium
Solids in 100 g of product ≥ 275 total kcal ≥10% of the total energy coming from free sugars. ≥10% of the total energy coming from saturated fats ≥1% of the total energy coming from trans fats ≥1 mg of sodium per kcal
or
≥300 mg Calorie-free beverages:
≥45 mg
Liquids in 100 mL of product ≥70 total kcal
or
≥8 kcal of free sugars
Legend to use EXCESO CALORÍAS (Excess of Calories) EXCESO AZÚCARES (Excess of Sugars) EXCESO GRASAS SATURADAS (Excess of Saturated Fats) EXCESO GRASAS TRANS (Excess of Trans Fats) EXCESO SODIO (Excess of Sodium)

Note:

  1. If sugars are added during the production process, then sugars and calories must be evaluated.
  2. If fats are added during the production process, then saturated fats, trans fats and calories must be evaluated.
  3. If sodium is added during the production process, then only sodium must be evaluated.
Thresholds that determine when black seals must be included on labels during stage 3
Period of enforcement - October 1, 2025 onward
Energy Sugars Saturated Fats Trans Fats Sodium
Solids in 100 g of product ≥275 total kcal ≥10% of the total energy coming from free sugars. ≥10% of the total energy coming from saturated fats ≥1% of the total energy coming from trans fats ≥1 mg of sodium per kcal
or
≥300 mg Calorie-free beverages:
≥45 mg
Liquids in 100 mL of product ≥70 total kcal
or
≥8 kcal of free sugars
Legend to use EXCESO CALORÍAS (Excess of Calories) EXCESO AZÚCARES (Excess of Sugars) EXCESO GRASAS SATURADAS (Excess of Saturated Fats) EXCESO GRASAS TRANS (Excess of Trans Fats) EXCESO SODIO (Excess of Sodium)

Note: These provisions will apply as follows:

  1. If either free sugars, fats or sodium are added to the product during the production process; and
  2. The value of energy, quantity of free sugars (total sugars including added sugar plus the sugar naturally present in the product), saturated fat, trans fat and sodium, fall within the nutritional profile indicated in the above table.

All the provisions included in section 4.5.3 of the amendment to NOM-051 will be applied once the last stage starts.

If no sugars, fats or sodium are added to the product during the production process, companies would have the benefit of not having to evaluate the product for the inclusion of warning black seals. However, companies are encouraged to consult with an expert/authorized verification unit for their particular case.

Cautionary warnings/legends to discourage the consumption of sweeteners or caffeine by children

As of December 1, 2020, rectangular-shaped warnings must be used when applicable with the following text and in the following format/legend.

Description of above image

Translation: Contains sweeteners, not recommended for children

Description of above image

Translation: Contains caffeine - avoid in children

Products without octagonal warning seals or cautionary legends will be allowed to include a legend saying: "Este producto no contiene sellos ni leyendas" (Translation: This product does not contain warning seals or legends).

Other new requirements coming into force on April 1, 2021

More information

For more details regarding the new labelling requirements, including when and how the information should be presented, we invite you to consult the Full Text of the amended NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010, PDF, (in Spanish only).

For any questions, contact Canadian Trade Commissioner in Mexico: Alejandro Ruiz, alejandro.ruiz@international.gc.ca.

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