Nutrition labels made mandatory
02 Jan 2017 - 22:12
By Huda NV / The Peninsula
Food products without nutrition facts label will no longer be imported to Qatar with the Ministry of Public Health making the label mandatory from January 1, this year. The ministry said yesterday that it had notified traders about the new requirements in May last year. Under the new labelling system, each dietary elements in the food item should be specified along with the calories. This is intended to help consumers choose food based on the contents, dietary needs and calculate the calories.
With the grace period ended on January 1, food items which do not comply with the GCC Standardisation Organisation’s (GSO) regulation, GSO 9/2013, will not be allowed into the country. GSO 9/2013 is now the technical regulation that governs the labelling requirements for food.
“The ministry has given more than seven months for companies and importers to switch to new regulations and adjust the labels on the packaging as needed before making it mandatory,” the ministry said in a statement.
In the first phase of implementing GSO 9/2013, the ministry mandates inclusion of various data in English. The food label must contain the product name, list the ingredients and also have a nutritional declaration, in English. In later phases, the fact label will also need to be in Arabic language.
The food consignments that do not meet the requirements will be cleared from ports by the Port Health and Food Control Section of the ministry only after the required labelling conditions are fulfilled by the importers. The section is responsible for monitoring and inspection of imported foods to ensure they are fit for human consumption.
Labelling is not required for food items that are being imported to the country for further processing or repackaging. Also fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and slaughtered animals which are exported as a whole are exempted from the new labelling regulation.
Small packages with a size of less than 20 square centimetres and food that are not for commercial use are exempted from the mandatory labelling requirements. Though all types of water are also exempt from the regulation, details like mineral contents should be mentioned on the package.
However, food items that are intended for direct consumption or after heating should comply with the new regulation. The labels should include information about the nutritive value of the foodstuff such as carbohydrates, fats, protein, dietary fibres and energy.
In case of additives like vitamins, mineral salts or any other dietary elements, their value should be included in the nutritional information in international units (gram mg, ug, IU) and kilocalories for energy values.
Nutritional data must also include details like "serving size" and the total number of "servings" in the package. Details of total calories and calories from different contents as well as "daily consumption values" should also be mentioned.