Food Packaging regulation in Latin America

The following ePapers provide valuable information on the food safety regulations of the so called Mercosur-states, Chile, Mexico and the Andean Community / CAN.

Latin America

With the Mercosur agreement and the Andean Community / CAN there are two big unions of different countries, which have agreed on common food safety regulations. Of course there also are countries like Chile and Mexico, with individual legislations. You will find out more about them in our ePaper.

Packaging regulations in Latin America
Learn more about the Mercosur agreement and the Andean Community / CAN.


Mercosur or Mercosul (Spanish: Mercado Común del Sur, Portuguese: Mercado Comum do Sul) is a regional economic and political agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela (at the moment suspended) and Bolivia (still in accession procedure). Expert committees from the Mercosur countries are working on proposals for regulations on food contact materials, the so-called GMC Resolutions (‘Grupo Mercado Comun’). The regulations were created on the basis of the current EU and U.S. regulations. All GMC Resolutions must be incorporated into national legislations in order to become effective. In Brazil, the Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária (ANVISA) incorporates the GMC Resolutions into national Resolutions, in Argentina the Ministry of Health is responsible, in Uruguay it is the Ministry of Public Health and in Paraguay the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

In the member states exist no specific regulation for printing inks intended for the non-direct food contact. Nevertheless, these nations use a positive list approach to regulate most of food-contact materials. A general framework is set out in Resolución GMC N° 03/92, which requires, that all food-contact materials must be manufactured in accordance with good manufacturing practices, be of suitable purity and do not transfer any harmful or toxic compounds from the packaging to the food or cause an unacceptable change in food composition, taste or odor. Furthermore, Resolución GMC N° 56/92 provides general criteria for plastic packaging that is intended to come into contact with food and sets the threshold for the OML to 60 mg/kg (Amendment GMC N° 20/21). In addition, specific migration limits are set for individual substances if applicable.

Several follow-up GMC Resolutions have published proposals with the positive list of polymers and monomers of plastics, in particular Resolución GMC N° 02/12 (last amended with GMC N° 19/21). A plastic outside printed food packaging material that falls under the scope of GMC N° 56/92 must meet migration limits when it is tested for compliance. As the printing ink becomes part of the plastic packaging, the migration of substances which are both part of the plastic packaging and at the same time also used in the printing ink, must be considered with their combined effects. In this respect, nonfood contact inks are indirectly covered by Mercosur legislation and must not contain potential migrants in amounts that would possibly lead to exceedance of the given migration limits.

Furthermore, for polymeric coatings the principles of the regulations GMC Res. N° 02/12 (up-dated), GMC Res. N° 39/19 and N° 62/19 are applicable. Additionally, printed materials for direct food contact must comply with specific metal migration limits as described in Resolución GMC N° 15/10.

Andean Community / CAN

The Andean Community (Spanish: Comunidad Andina, CAN) is a customs union consisting of four South American countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The community only recently began adopting common measures, i.e. the common legislation has only been rudimental. Andean food packaging regulations are principally based on the Mercosur legislation.


The Ministry of Health of the Chilean government issued Decree No. 977/1996, the Sanitary Food Regulations. These Regulations contain articles that cover food packaging. The requirements are not very specific and similar to the basic requirements in most of the world. E.g. Article 123 states that packages must not transfer toxic substances to food, nor lead to sensory or nutritional changes of the food. However, there are no specific regulations on food packaging materials or on inks for food packaging.


There doesn't exist a specific legislation in Mexico with a positive list of materials that are considered acceptable for use neither in food contact materials nor printing inks for food packaging. Moreover, no clearance of packaging materials is currently required. Some basic safety requirements are contained in Mexico’s General Health Law (Ley General de Salud) that rules the manufacture and sale of food and beverages. The Health regulation prohibits the adulteration or contamination of foods. Other unspecific requirements are found in the Regulation on Sanitary Control of Products and Services (RCSPS) as well as in other food and GMP regulations. In this respect, Article 17 in RCSPS states that food packaging must be safe. Recently the General Law of Adequate and Sustainable Food was published, it aims at protecting the right to adequate food. Article 36 states that it is prohibited to use substances harmful to human health and environment in the production, transportation, storage or packaging of any type of food. The Law provides that future regulations on health and environmental protection will introduce lists of harmful substances within the detailed and specific provisions of the law to be published by the Ministry of Health.