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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 (changes to NOM-051)

September 4, 2020

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!

Canadian exporters of foods and non-alcoholic beverages destined for retail sale in Mexico are strongly advised to start making any required adjustments to the labels/stickers on their products to comply with the new labelling requirements that are part of a recent amendment to the Mexican Official Standard: NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010. The labelling changes, which are mandatory for both domestic and imported products, 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. It is important to note that the first stage includes major changes.

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. The announcement did not indicate any changes to the enforcement dates of the other two stages.  In addition, the announcement indicated that, 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.

Canadian exporters are strongly advised to start working as soon as possible with their Mexican importers and/or private verification units authorized by the Mexican government to make any required adjustments to their labels/stickers in order to make them compliant with the new provisions in order to avoid any disruptions to the sale of their products in Mexico or penalties for their Mexican partners. We understand that once a private verification unit approves a label, it can issue a “compliance certificate”, which can be presented when the products arrive at the Mexican border to facilitate the inspection/import process.

A list of private verification units can be found at the following link:

http://www.economia.gob.mx/files/comunidad_negocios/normalizacion/UVA/2013_UVA/2013_05_21_UVA_NOM_051.pdf

Below is a summary of some of the new labelling requirements, but Canadian exporters are encouraged to review all requirements in the full text of the new NOM-051, which can be consulted at:

http://www.dof.gob.mx/2020/SEECO/NOM_051.pdf (only available in Spanish).

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

Octagonal black warning seals

As of October 1, 2020, black, octagonal-shaped warning seals will be required to appear in the front-of-package of foods and non-alcoholic beverages that exceed pre-established thresholds of calories, sodium, trans fats, sugars, and saturated fats. 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 (details are included in the full text of NOM-051.

Octagonal black warning seals
Octagonal black warning seals location

The following tables outline the thresholds to be applied during the three stages of enforcement. In some cases (e.g., energy and sodium), the thresholds become stricter from one stage to the next. 

Thresholds that determine when black seals must be included on labels during Stage 1

Period of enforcement - October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2023

 EnergySugarsSaturated FatsTrans FatsSodium
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 useEXCESO 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)

Notes:

Thresholds that determine when black seals must be included on labels during Stage 2

Period of enforcement - October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2025

EnergySugarsSaturated FatsTrans FatsSodium
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 useEXCESO 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)

Notes:

Thresholds that determine when black seals must be included on labels during Stage 3

Period of enforcement - October 1, 2025 onward

EnergySugarsSaturated FatsTrans FatsSodium
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 useEXCESO 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)

Notes: These provisions will apply as follows:

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 their particular case.

Specific provisions related to the octagonal warning signs

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 (CONTAINS SWEETENERS, NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN) / (CONTAINS CAFFEINE – AVOID IN CHILDREN):

As of October 1, 2020, rectangular-shaped warnings must be used (when applicable) with the following text and in the following format/legend (CONTAINS SWEETENERS, NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN) / (CONTAINS CAFFEINE – AVOID IN CHILDREN).

warning label: CONTAINS SWEETENERS, NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN
warning label: 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” (This product does not contain warning seals or legends).

Other new requirements coming into force on April 1, 2021:

For more details regarding the new labelling requirements, including when and how the information should be presented, we invite you to consult de full text of the new NOM-051

For any questions, contact Trade Commissioner Alejandro Ruiz (Alejandro.ruiz@international.gc.ca)

Date Modified: