/ New Law Regulates Gluten-Free Food Labeling

31 August, 2021

Felipe von Unger V.
Associate Attorney
Alessandri Abogados

On August 18, 2021, Law No. 21,362 was published in the Official Gazette, which basically regulates the preparation and labeling of gluten-free foods.

Although the applicability of several of its provisions has been subject to the drafting, by the Executive, of the relevant regulations within 90 days, it seems relevant to focus on its text. The aforementioned, not only because it is part of the regulatory trend that we have already seen in relation to other mass consumption goods (alcohol, tobacco, food in general), but also because it leaves under its scope of obligations to a number of subjects participating in the market.

Summary of the new law:

  • It mandates manufacturers, producers, distributors and importers of food to include a gluten-free label on them. Likewise, the aforementioned label shall comply with the provisions of the Food Sanitary Regulations;
  • It provides that processed foods that do not contain gluten shall be labeled with the expression “gluten free”, accompanied by a logo or symbol of a crossed out ear of corn, which shall be on the front of the respective food, so as to guarantee its visibility;
  • It provides that the manufacturer must comply with the program of good manufacturing practices prescribed by the competent health authority;
  • It mandates educational establishments to inform and warn students, parents and guardians about the existence of the multiple pathologies related to food intolerances, celiac disease and food allergies;
  • It provides that certain commercial establishments must have exclusive gondolas to sell gluten-free products, an obligation that is not applicable to micro and small businesses;
  • It provides that the bidding conditions for services whose purpose is to provide food services to certain educational establishments, public health centers, prisons, casinos and cafeterias that are inside or are part of any institution or agency of the Government administration, shall include conditions for providing food services for people suffering from food intolerance diseases, celiac disease or food allergy.

This new set of standards applicable to food, once again considers labeling as a suitable means for the communication of attributes of the products marketed in our country, for the sake of people’s health. But not only that. As already anticipated and as can also be seen in the points above, the brief text of this law incorporates very dissimilar actors to its mandatory content. First of all, food manufacturers, producers, distributors and importers are subject to its provisions, and, along with them the educational establishments. It also mandates commercial establishments to offer gluten-free products and, finally, public entities bidding for food services.

It could not be said that this new consumer protection statute is a novelty or a rarity in our regulatory system. However, it constitutes a precedent that reinforces the trend towards the regulation of the production and marketing of mass consumption products and, as already mentioned, this time applying to multiple actors.