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17 October 2016AmericasDaniel Sanchez and Victor Ramirez

Keeping a clear head: Mexico’s rules on alcohol labels

In order to curb the epidemic of alcohol abuse—which has become a serious health problem in Mexico, as in many other countries—the Mexican government has revised and implemented new rules on labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages.

The regulatory framework is governed by the General Health Law (GHL), its regulations and the official standards, called Normas Oficiales Mexicanas (NOM). These standards provide specific and technical rules and requirements that must be met by products and services subject to regulation.

The authority in charge of enforcing the provisions on health and labelling requirements is the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS), which is part of the Ministry of Health.

Mexican Official Standard Rule NOM-142-SSA1/SCFI-2014 for Alcoholic Beverages (NOM 142) was published in the Federal Gazette last year by the head of COFEPRIS. It has the purpose of laying down the health specifications alongside the commercial and safety labelling provisions for alcoholic beverages that are commercialised in Mexico. The new labelling requirements provided by NOM 142 came into force on March 24, 2016.

In order to clarify any possible doubts over complying with NOM 142, on March 25, 2016 COFEPRIS published in the Federal Gazette a decree stating the criteria it will apply to determine compliance with this new standard. This decree provides clarification of some points that may cause doubt or confusion to manufacturers.

For instance, it provides that the import date of products or the bottling date (for beverages produced in Mexico) shall be considered in order to determine if certain products have to comply with the new standard requirements, because they will be considered as being produced before NOM 142 came in force.

"NOM 142 includes all specifications regarding the presentation of these symbols, such as size, colour and appropriate circumstances of use for each symbol."

NOM 142 establishes general provisions concerning the information that must be included on labels for alcoholic beverages, such as words or graphic representations of the product’s suggested use, as well as requirements regarding the presentation of the label’s information in order to verify that it is clear, legible, presented in Spanish and that it avoids leading consumers to be mistaken or confused about the nature and characteristics of the product.

Label rules

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