MEXICO CITY, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Mexican authorities ordered the “immediate suspension” of the marketing of more than twenty cheeses and yogurts for giving misleading information and harming consumers, in a measure that affects the giants Danone and Mondelez, among other companies.
The government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has declared war on processed foods to curb the country’s obesity rates. Congress, dominated by the ruling party, recently imposed a tough labeling law that designates products with high levels of sugar, sodium and fat.
The Ministry of Economy reported Tuesday night in a statement that, with the assistance of the Federal Consumer Prosecutor’s Office (Profeco), “it verified that various products called ‘cheese’ and ‘natural yogurt’ do not comply with the provisions of the Official Mexican Standards “.
The secretariat warned that more than 20 cheeses from 19 brands and two yogurts were being sold with information that could be misleading, using the legend “100% milk, without being so”, adding vegetable fat instead of dairy or giving a lower weight to the declared as net content.
On the list is Philadelphia, the brand of the American Mondelez International, which was surprised. “This order (…) generates surprise and confusion for our company, since it is totally unfounded and damages the reputation of our brand,” he replied in a statement.
Mondelez complained that it had not been notified in a timely manner of the start of the administrative procedure and claimed to have evidence that the Profeco laboratory validated the indicated product on September 25.
For its part, the Mexican unit of French Danone said it had adapted its labeling to the new rules and called the ban “untimely.” “The information (…) has already been modified and this situation was duly made known to the authorities,” he argued.
Another affected group, Grupo Lala, one of the largest dairy producers in the country, said that it complies with the new established norms and clarified that it resolved a question that was the subject of Profeco in April for not identifying the country of origin of the food included in the list.
(Report by Raúl Cortés, with additional report by Sharay Angulo and Ana Isabel Martínez)