Promulgated on June 27th of last year, the Chilean law on food has caused great debates and political and economic pressures, both inside and outside that country. When resolving to face the high rate of child overweight in the country, which reaches half (5 in 10) of Chilean children, the Ministry of Health decided to attack the problem in a multifactorial way on three major fronts: to establish the obligation of a front seal in industrial products to nutritional composition notification, alerting to the high doses of sugar, sodium and saturated fat; to prohibit the public buying of these foods and their composition in the school meals and to prohibit the advertisement of these products in the mass media in publications and programs intended for children under 14 years.
The major industrial products would not be quiet in face of State action and released strong and aggressive advertising campaign. A commercial sponsored by AB Chile, the association of companies in the sector, with famous faces from local media, is trying to point out mistakes and limitations of the law. In addition, the Association has used legal arguments to delay the application of the law in all segments.
But not only the companies have mobilized. In the last days of December 2016, Paho/WHO together with a number of different academic leaders, scientific and civil society supported the law enforcement actions in nutritional composition and advertising regulation of the Ministry of Health.
“This law is really a milestone that comes to support the tradition we have in public health management. It can show that in health indicators Chile is a leader in the industry”, said Javier Uribe, Paho/WHO representative in Chile.
Carmen Castillo, Minister of the country’s Ministry of Health (MinSal), thanked and welcomed the broad support for this initiative, “we have seen a challenge which is the implementation of this law, which is the most important public nutrition policy of the last 50 years and that focuses its actions on the protection of children in our country”.
Support also came from Enrique Paris, Director of the Chilean Medical College, an association that represents the category in that country. “The purpose of this law is not a ban, but the formula for educating the population and giving more choices. Many experts have been heard and we will continue to support it. If there are things to improve, that will be achieved with dialogue and conversation, but no disqualifications “, said Paris, also Director of the Toxicological Information Center of the Faculty of Medicine of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, the largest medical school in the country.
In the evaluation of the year, held on the last day 05th, the Minister brought data from a survey by the Institute of communication and image of the Universidad de Chile that points a recognition for 92.9% of the population of the new action as a way of confronting the cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Of those surveyed, 95% believe it is necessary to modify the diet.
James Burrows, Undersecretary of Public Health, said he was proud of the membership of schools to ban the sale of labelled foods. “This is a breakthrough of this new legal instrument, because it puts the focus of public policy in the group we want to impact – the children”.
Check out the video of MinSal disclosure