Article – Editorial: Strengthening food labeling policies in Brazil

Food labeling policies can have different purposes, but consumers’ right to protection, human rights to health and to adequate food, the rights of the child and all other interdependent human rights prevail. For this reason, research that seeks to inform the best policy options in fulfilling, protecting, and respecting these rights is paramount.

Brazil is known for novel research and action that have led to great advance of knowledge and policies on nutrition and health globally. Different sorts of edible and drinkable products have been historically defined as foods and manufactured and labeled to mimic foods.

Unhealthy edible and drinkable commodities industry have insisted on the use of market-forged categorization of products with the purpose of demonstrating an artificial diversification of alike products, for which labeling has been an instrument of consumer deception.

Labeling is often used to distort the real composition of products. Batti et al. found that half of the food products they assessed in Brazil that highlighted the term whole grain or related expressions on the front label did not have a whole-grain ingredient listed in the first position of the ingredients list. Barros et al. also revealed how the ingredients are listed on labels in ways that hide products real content and composition, showing that the use non-specific terms for listing industrially produced trans fatty acids (i-TFA) ingredients in foods that are sources of i-TFA increased in Brazil. Prates et al. have shown how the use of nutrition claims convey such deception, corroborating previous findings. Unfortunately, the labeling regulation in Brazil still allows the use of claims in products that are not recommended as part of a healthy diet, as Mais, Borges et al. described. Along these lines, Sato et al. also highlighted in their paper the importance of regulating other persuasive elements that can strengthen deception, such as mascots and cartoon characters.