Chile will outlaw Kinder Surprise eggs and prohibit toys in McDonald’s ‘Happy Meals’ once a new food labelling law comes into effect in June.
The law is designed to combat obesity and its related health problems, particularly among minors. According to the Health Ministry, one in three children under six is overweight, while one person dies every hour in Chile due to ailments connected to diet such as diabetes, heart problems, and high blood pressure.
The law imposes strict rules for identifying foods high in salt, sugar, saturated fats, and calories. It also bans advertising these foods to children aged under 14, and prohibits their sale in educational facilities.
The new restrictions also prevent companies offering “commercial hooks” to promote these foods, including “toys, accessories, incentives or other similar items.”
Speaking to local radio ADN, the head of public policy at the Health Ministry, Tito Pizarro, cited the Kinder Surprise and Happy Meals as two examples of products that would be affected by the new law.
“The Kinder Surprise has a hook and will not be sold in our country. McDonald’s Happy Meal cannot be used as a commercial hook. The Happy Meal as it is today, from a nutritional perspective, is not ‘happy’. It has excessive salt, sugar, and saturated fats,” said Pizarro.
Once the law comes into force on 27th June, producers or vendors that do not comply with the law will face fines or the confiscation of offending products.
Another article of the new law bans advertising of substitutes for breast milk, and stipulates that manufacturers of infant formula must include information on the benefits of breast feeding infants.
A recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, which recommend that babies consume only breast milk in their first six months, criticised countries for not doing enough to control the marketing of breast milk substitutes.
“There are still far too many places where mothers are inundated with incorrect and biased information through advertising and unsubstantiated health claims. This can distort parents’ perceptions and undermine their confidence in breastfeeding, with the result that far too many children miss out on its many benefits,” says Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development.
“The breast-milk substitutes industry is strong and growing, and so the battle to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding around the world is an uphill one – but it is one that is worth the effort,” says UNICEF Chief of Nutrition Werner Schultink. “Clever marketing should not be allowed to fudge the truth that there is no equal substitute for a mother’s own milk.”
According to the report, only eight out of 35 countries in the Americas have comprehensive legislation in line with the code established by the World Health Assembly in 1981.