– Department to remove items from supermarkets, retailers who have information not displayed in English
The Government Analyst/Food and Drug Department (GA/FDD) will be removing from the shelves of supermarkets and other retail levels all food, human and veterinary drugs, cosmetic and medical device where the information is not properly displayed in English. Furthermore, the department will not release foreign labelled products coming through the ports of entry.
The organisation says that some of the languages on foreign labelled items include Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic and Spanish.
The Analyst Department noted that the Food and Drug Act Regulations mandate that all regulated articles offered for sale should be in English.
It was explained that labeling of regulated articles must not only be viewed as a market tool but an integral part of communication between societal players, such as, Manufacturers to Distributors, Control Authorities to Consumers and Business to Consumers.
In addition, proper labeling allows consumers to make safe, healthy, sustainable and informed choices at the point of sale.
Accordingly, the information on the label should commensurate with the technical knowledge, experience and education of intended users, that is, it should be readily understood by the intended user.
For foods the label contains information on the ingredient listing which informs on health, nutrition, quality and safety in addition to providing useful information on potential allergens and shelf-life.
“Also persons may have preferences because of religious and other beliefs and thus, the right to make discriminatory choices. Some temperature sensitive foods may warrant specific storage information, for both the maintenance of quality and safety specifications.
Information may also be necessary to guide preparation and consumption to negate food safety risks. The country of origin is important, especially for dairy and meat based products and allow for risk assessment on zoonotic diseases (Zoonotic diseases are diseases caused by infectious agents that can be transmitted between (or are shared by) animals and humans.) Also to inform on countries that are known producers of substandard and defective products,” Government Analyst/Food and Drug Department (GA/FDD) underscored.
The analyst department also noted that cosmetic and medical device labels must communicate performance based information, such as precaution warnings, proper functioning and operations and level of effectiveness.
Safety information on sun protection, allergens and hypoallergens are also required. Ingredient listing is of primary importance to assure that all ingredients are approved and used in stipulated quantities.
“Of particular importance are the sun protection ingredients, skin lightening ingredients containing steroids which can be absorbed and penetrate the skin in significant quantities. Herbal cosmetics are emerging as a very key group with health implications, since many are manufactured by unapproved manufacturers and may contain contaminants that are injurious to health.”
It was further advised that Veterinary Drugs if inadequately labeled could result in inappropriate use, with resultant ineffective treatment of animals and possible development of resistance to such drug. In addition, failure to observe withholding periods, that is, the period after an animal has been treated with a drug, prior to the consumption of its products (meat, milk, egg) by man could result in accumulation of such drugs in the human population with chronic and resistance effects.
“The proper labelling of drugs in English is of pivotal importance, since drugs are therapeutic agents used for the purposes of treatment or prevention of disease, or otherwise affect structure or function of the human body. It is necessary for the consumer to read the label for critical information on directions for use and the nature and merit of the drug.”
The Government Analyst noted, “In consideration of all the issues that could impact on Consumer Protection and Safety the department will take firm actions to ensure that the regulated products are properly labelled and of the right quality and safety. The department is calling on all importers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and the general public to assist in this drive, to ensure that commodities are properly labeled in English.”
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