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Reformulation of Packaged Foods and Beverages in the Colombian Food Supply


Lowery, Caitlin M.; Mora-Plazas, Mercedes; Gómez, Luis F.; Popkin, Barry M.; & Taillie, Lindsey Smith (2020). Reformulation of Packaged Foods and Beverages in the Colombian Food Supply. Nutrients, 12(11), e3260. PMCID: PMC7692620


Public discussion, advocacy, and legislative consideration of policies aimed at reducing consumption of processed foods, such as sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes and mandatory front-of-package (FOP) warning labels, may stimulate product reformulation as a strategy to prevent regulation. In Colombia, there have been major legislative pushes for SSB taxes and FOP labels, although neither has passed to date. In light of the ongoing policy debate and successful implementation of similar policies in Peru and Chile, we explored manufacturer reformulation in the Colombian food supply. We compared the quantities of nutrients of concern (including sugar, sodium, and saturated fat) from the nutrition facts panels of the same 102 packaged foods and 36 beverages from the top-selling brands in Colombia between 2016 and 2018. Our analyses showed a substantial decrease in median sugar content of beverages, from 9.2 g per 100 mL to 5.2 g per 100 mL, and an increase in the percentage of beverages containing non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS), from 33% to 64% (p = 0.003). No meaningful changes in the quantities of nutrients of concern among foods were observed. Our findings suggest little reformulation has occurred in Colombia in the absence of mandatory policies, except for the substitution of sugar with NNS among beverages.


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Lowery, Caitlin M.
Mora-Plazas, Mercedes
Gómez, Luis F.
Popkin, Barry M.
Taillie, Lindsey Smith