1Centro de Investigación en Nutrición y Salud, Cuernavaca, México.
Background and objective. According with the World Health Organization (WHO), Governments need to consider actions that will result in provision of balanced information for consumers to enable them to make healthy choices easily, therefore, labelling information for consumers should be accurate, standardized, and comprehensible. In 2019, the modification of the Mexican labelling regulation (NOM-051) began. One of the main topics of discussion was the best option to declare the nutritional information in the nutrition facts table. To assess the variation in the declared serving size on packaged food and beverages in Mexico.
Methods. In 2017, information was collected from 18,558 packaged food and beverage labels through photographs available at 117 supermarkets in Mexico City. We included the not recommended categories of foods and beverages most frequently consumed by the Mexican population according to the 2018 National Health and Nutrition Survey. In each food category, we calculated the mean and median serving size declared on nutrition facts table, as well as the variance statistics such as standard deviation, interquartile range, and minimum and maximum values. Variation in each food category was determined using the coefficient of variation expressed as a percentage.
Results. A total of 4,137 products were found. The overall coefficient of variation was 34.4% and ranged from 11.1% to 80.1%. The food categories with the most variation were sugar-based confectionery (80.1%), followed by ice cream and edible ice (50%), cakes and muffins (48.5%), and salty snacks (47.1%). On the other hand, food categories with the least variation were nectars and fruit beverages (18.9%), breakfast cereals (19.5%), and sweet biscuits (22.2%).
Conclusions. The study demonstrates the need to standardize portions in Mexico. The standardization will allow consumers to compare between products of the same food category. Following the WHO recommendations, the nutritional information should be declared per 100 g or ml along with the portion size in accordance with the habitual consumption that must be established by groups of Nutrition and Public Health Experts, free of conflict of interest.