The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025


Establishment of the Global Action Network on Nutrition Labelling

One of the mechanisms to implement the commitments of the Nutrition Decade is the establishment of Action Networks. Following the first Global Action Network on Sustainable Food from the Ocean for Food Security and Nutrition which was launched by the Government of Norway in 2017, the Governments of France and Australia hosted the inaugural meeting of the Global Action Network on Nutrition Labeling on 6 – 7 February 2019 in Paris.

Nutrition labelling is a policy implementation tool to promote healthy diets and its implementation has been recommended and promoted by various official WHO documents adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA), such as the Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition(endorsed together with the 6 Global Nutrition target 2025 in May 2012, the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013-2020 (adopted together with 9 voluntary NCD Global Targets 2025 in May 2013) and the Report of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity in May 2016.

The Codex Alimentarious Commission (Codex) defines nutrition labelling as “a description intended to inform the consumer of nutritional properties of a food” and provides guidance on the procedures for implementing nutrition labels, such as how to implement nutrient declarations, which nutrients are to be declared, what reference values are to be used, or how to present nutrition labels (including criteria for legibility). But despite the availability of Codex guidelines on nutrition labelling and progress in implementing nutrition labelling policies, the impact and effectiveness on specific outcomes (i.e. consumers’ nutrition and health outcomes, food reformulation, etc) vary between countries.

The Global Action Network on Nutrition Labelling was formed therefore to exchange country experiences and good practices, share successes and challenges they faced, and provide mutual support to accelerate implementation of effective nutrition labelling policies. At the 2 day launching meeting in Paris, 19 interested countries from different regions of the world presented their respective country situations and shared their experiences. They have then discussed about a joint workplan of the Network and next steps. At the meeting, WHO also presented and shared its work on guiding principles for front-of-pack labellingsystems and on-going evidence review and policy guideline development on nutrition labelling that are being developed as part of the guideline development for promoting healthy diet.