How Nestlé tried to put pressure on policy of fighting overweight in Mexico

According to the Public NGO Eye, the Swiss agrifood giant used the government of its country to reduce regulations on the display of the nutritional quality of products.


Has the agrifood giant Nestlé tried to block a labeling against junk food in Mexico? The non -governmental Swiss public public Eye affirms it. In a report published on Friday 1 er July, she lifts the veil, copies of support for support, on the lobbying led, at the end of 2019, by the Swiss flagship in a country where seven Mexicans out of ten are overweight or obese. The NGO ensures that the Swiss government has been “instrumentalized” by Nestlé to put pressure on the Mexican authorities. The operation failed. The standard is applied.

The alert is everywhere on Mexican food packaging. For almost two years, large octagonal black labels inform the consumer about the ingredients harmful to health: “excess in saturated fat”, “in sugar”, “in calories” … The warning is up to the emergency: The country has risen to the second rank of the nations most affected by overweight and obesity among the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, after the United States. Mexico wins the palm of overweight in children: 38 % of Mexicans aged 5 to 11 are overweight, according to the Mexican Institute of Statistics. The new regulations also prohibits advertising on junk food for minors.

A major issue for Nestlé. “The company achieved a turnover, in 2019 in Mexico, of almost 3 billion euros, explains Laurent Gaberell, author of the public Eye survey. More than a billion sales of Nestlé products was threatened By this new labeling. “The standard project was published in October 2019, then adopted in March 2020.” It was during this period that Nestlé tried to modify the content of the new regulations with the support of the Swiss authorities “, underlines Mr. Gaberell.

Mexicans hold good

On November 15, 2019, an employee of Nestlé sends an email to an interlocutor of the Swiss Ministry of Economy (SECO), asking for “aid” and “recommendations”. The names are cavited in the emails obtained by Public Eye, after a request made in the name of a Swiss law on transparency and access to information. That day, the email is accompanied by an argument from Nestlé supposed to guide the Seco in its diplomatic exchanges with the Mexican authorities. The memorandum deplores too “restrictive” standard, arousing “unnecessary fears” among consumers.

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/Media reports.