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Dec 4, 2020

Interpreting Front of Package Labelling, Requirements

Represented in the virtual meeting were PAHO, as well as the Belize Bureau of Standards. While there have been some delays in the implementation of the front of package labelling exercise, there are various things that must be considered including the fact that Belize imports a large number of food items, therefore legislations would impact what is done on the ground here in Belize. The labels are now in country and as the process moves forward, the public is being sensitized on how to interpret the labels.  

 

Salim Hoy, Belize Bureau of Standard

“The front of package warning labelling represents one of the key points, tools of a comprehensive strategy to address obesigenic environments. We do have a right to know and as you can see, package nutritional seeks to provide nutritional information in a more accessible location. This high in label seeks to identify food high in nutrients of public health concerns such as levels of calories, sugar, saturated fats and sodium for consumer awareness. The F.O.P. system, including the use of recognizable symbols that are easy to understand; as you can see the standard meets the highest level of scientific excellence including the octagon shape warning systems and the nutrient profile model based on the WHO recommendations. Now this standard is recommended to be implemented on a mandatory basis, but unfortunately the process of so doing is not defined at this very moment. The processors, importers and manufacturers and/or packagers will have the responsibility of compliance, veracity and legibility of the front of package nutritional warning labelling on the pre-packaged food. As it appears in the annex D4 of the standard, the product must receive a front of package warning label for any of the above—sugars, total saturated fats and so forth—if it exceeds at least one of these criteria. However if it doesn’t exceed any of the criteria, then it won’t have to be printed on the package itself. If you take a look at what the labels look like. It should consist of symbols with octagonal design and black background and white border which shall contain the expression ‘High In’ followed by the corresponding nutrients such as fat, saturated fat, sodium or sugars and it should include a symbol for each nutrient that is in excess. The text shall be written in white capital letters in addition the same symbol and the Ministry of Health should be written in white.”


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