Argentina is set to introduce warning labels on foods and drinks high in sugar, fats, sodium and caffeine.

The new law requires food and beverage companies to carry black octagonal symbols with the inscription “excess of” regarding the content of sodium, sugar, fats and caffeine, similar to legislation recently passed in countries including Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Colombia and México.

Products will be required to use the labels when they exceed the amounts of fats, sugar or sodium recommended by the Panamerican Health Organization and Argentina Health Ministry guidelines.

Carla Martin Bonito, executive director of trade body the Argentina Food Industries Coordinator (COPAL), told Just Food: “The food and beverages industry was always in favour of a front-of-pack labelling system and stressed the need of reaching consensus about a project that included the points of view of all the interested parties on the issue, including the industry itself.

“But this is not what happened with the law that was finally passed. After the approval in Congress, we are still evaluating the impact of the legislation, exploring possibilities for improvement, trying to amend the weaknesses the project holds, and attending to the concerns of the manufacturing sector.”

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All manufacturers that sell food and beverages in Argentina fall within this new framework, except in the case of producers of common sugar, vegetable oils, nuts and dried foods.

The new law prohibits the sale of products with the warning labels in school environments, as well as advertising them to children and teenage audiences.

Manufacturers are also banned from adding complementary nutritional information to stress the positive qualities of the products, as well as using logos from civil or medical organisations.

Experts at the local branch of law consulting firm Baker McKenzie told Just Food companies will have 180 days to comply but will be able to request an additional 180 days in case they cannot meet the requirements.