/ Obligation of Educational Establishments to Inform About Gluten-Free Products

September 23, 2021

Felipe von Unger V.
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 Branch, of the relevant regulations within 90 days, it seems relevant to focus on its text, 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 ends up leaving under its perimeter of obligations to a number of subjects, including educational establishments.

Specifically with respect to schools, the content of this new law provides for the obligation to inform and warn students, parents and guardians about the existence of various pathologies related to food intolerances, celiac disease and food allergies.

This new rule, which adds to the complex regulatory burden on schools, modifies Article 4 of Law 20,606, on the nutritional composition of food and its advertising, an article that already provided for similar obligations in relation to the promotion of healthy eating habits and teaching about the harmful effects of a diet excessive in fats, saturated fats, sugars, sodium and other nutrients whose consumption in certain quantities or volumes may represent a health risk.

This new regulation also incorporates other, very dissimilar, actors into its obligatory content. For example, food manufacturers, producers, distributors and importers are subject to its provisions. It also obliges commercial establishments to offer gluten-free products and, finally, certain 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, once again involving educational establishments as a point of dissemination of public health policies.