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New sugar labelling standards take effect July 1

Saturday, June 24, 2017

MINISTER of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda announced yesterday that effective July 1 new labelling packaging and food safety requirements for pre-packaged brown and granulated sugar will become mandatory.

“Come July 1, I encourage you do not to buy improperly packaged and labelled sugar. If it is not consistent with the regulations, as outlined, do not purchase it, because we are not going to be careless in our monitoring of this exercise,” Samuda said.

The minister was speaking at a press conference held at the ministry's New Kingston offices.

He said: “The implementation of this standard will serve as a disincentive for manufacturers that import sugar for use as raw material to divert it to the local retail trade, as only registered entities will be allowed to repackage sugar into packages less than 50 kg,” said Samuda.

The information to be documented on the label includes: product name and brand name, the net content, name and address of manufacturer, distributors, importers, or vendors. The label must also include storage conditions, country of origin, lot identification, date markings, and the instructions for use. Sugar that will be in plastic bags must be sealed using a heat sealer. Also, the bag must not be tied — not even with a string or a bow.

Executive director of Bureau of Standards Jamaica Yvonne Hall said: “When the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA) is testing samples, the integrity of that seal can also be checked.”

If an inspector goes in and they (retailers) don't have this correctly done, the product will be removed from shelves and they will be returned only when they meet the required standard.

There is, at present, no fine on the books for violators, but Minister Samuda has tasked CEO of the NCRA to propose a fine to the authorities. “I think one of the things we will have to put in place will be a financial fine [as] the regulations do not call for a fine, and there must be a fine in place to serve as a deterrent,” said Samuda.

Each sugar re-packer must be registered with the NCRA to ensure that the consumer gets a product which is processed and packaged under hygienic conditions and free from foreign matter. The minister added that the appropriate labelling will allow for traceability of the product.

CEO of the NCRA Lorice Edwards said, “there will be no on-site packaging. The intention is that there will be a separate packaging facility.”

The minister said six re-packers of sugar have been sensitised islandwide — Caribbean Depot Limited; Cost Club Limited, trading at MegaMart Wholesale Club; DK Processors Limited; Hi-lo Food Stores Repacking Facility; Lloyd's Manufacturing Company Limited; and Palm Rose Commodity Limited. Four of the re-packers have registered with the NCRA with the other two expected to meet the requirements for registration before the end of the month.

The Consumer Affairs Commission, meanwhile, has been directed by the minister to exercise increased vigilance in the marketplace as it relates to retail sugar, looking at both the packaging, and quality of the product.

— Sasha Rowe