2002 Food policy

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Recommendation for Brazil, par. 393,394,395,396 (2002)

Text of the recommendation

393. Side by side with this deficiency picture in Brazil, an epidemic of obesity or other types of lipaemia and related cardiovascular diseases has been detected. This is an unprecedented epidemiological situation. According to a 1996 report issued jointly by the Inter‑American Development Bank and the World Health Organization, there has been an increase in obesity and chronic diseases associated with food intake, particularly in lower socio‑economic groups, which account for 50 per cent of this increase among adults. Obesity in the Brazilian population is becoming considerably more common than child malnutrition, pointing to an epidemiological transition process which is being accorded due attention by public health authorities. Cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of death and incapacity among adults and the elderly and account for 34 per cent of deaths in Brazil. To a large extent, these diseases are associated with obesity and with improper eating habits and lifestyles. (...)

394. Adding to these problems, inadequate eating habits also pose a serious challenge. In the different regions of the country, popular culture holds onto food and eating traditions whose nutrition, therapeutic properties, and requirements and taboos of foods or food combinations can be of dubious value.

395. It should be added that there is a proliferation of fast food establishments, which may be conducive to less than healthy habits, and an increasing use of pre‑cooked or fast‑cooking food whose nutritional quality may be compromised if modern production techniques are not used. Another factor that influences eating habits is the significant volume of daily meals served to different segments of the population. For example, 36 million meals are served daily in schools, 300,000 in the armed forces and 10 million to workers covered by the Workers Food Program‑PAT.

395. Through massive advertising, the food industry and trade induce consumers to adopt new habits, often based on false or deceitful claims. A striking example of this is the premature stopping of breastfeeding over the last 40 years, owing to women’s new behaviour patterns and the advertising of industrialized infant food. With respect to food processing, which is subject to sanitary inspection, it is important to take into account the quantity of food products and industries currently in existence. In Brazil there are about 100,000 licensed products and 20,000 registered food companies. Another consideration is the growing influx of imported foods, which requires greater attention from health inspectors. In the Brazilian view, the role of food health inspection is to protect the health of the population from risks stemming from the consumption of irregular food products. The National Sanitary Vigilance Agency is responsible for monitoring compliance with technical norms and legislation applicable to food. It operates by in loco checking of hygienic and sanitary practices adopted by establishments that produce or sell foodstuffs. It is also charged with adopting the pertinent measures in case of irregularities, to ensure that food products offered for consumption are in satisfactory condition. Basically, these norms refer to “sound manufacturing practices” and to food 30product identification and quality


Economic and Social Council, Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Initial reports submitted by States parties under articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant, E/1990/5/Add.53, (2002). Par. 394- 396. Available at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=E%2f1990%2f5%2fAdd.53&Lang=en