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Food groups oppose Mexican labeling proposal

A regulation proposed by Mexico to prohibit food companies from using Spanish language labels applied over existing labels for the Mexican market is being opposed by two major U.S.

food industry organizations. The Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) and the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) complained that undue difficulties and costs would result. "The expense to American food companies to produce original labels in Spanish for the Mexican market and keep a separate inventory of product for that market would create an economic hardship so great that it likely would threaten the supply of food products exported to Mexico, specialty food items exported in small quantities and products being test-marketed in Mexico," said Regina Hildwine, NFPA's director of technical regulatory affairs. In its letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture objecting to the proposed regulations, GMA said package production costs would increase, a cost that would be passed on to the consumer. In fact, GMA said some manufacturers "may bypass the Mexican market" when developing new products, because the cost of packaging could decrease profitability and success. In the event that manufacturers are required to provide dual-language labels, GMA requested clarification and consideration in three areas: * Would the appearance of the U.S. nutrition panel be considered a claim that would invoke Mexican nutrition labeling? * Would the brand name be excluded from Spanish language requirements? * Can individual units of multi-unit packages be exempted from the labeling requirements provided that external or outer labels comply? NFPA urged the Mexican government to establish an effective date two years after the date of the final regulation, instead of January 1995.

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