Operators of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), especially those in the food processing industry, are being encouraged to ensure that food product labels and packages meet regulatory standards.
The call came from technician in the Science and Technology Division of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), Pauline Bailey, who was speaking at a recent ‘Virtual Biz Zone’ session hosted by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).
During her presentation on the various standards for pre-packaged foods, she appealed to food processors, specifically those who want to enter the United States (US) or United Kingdom (UK) markets, “to get their labels correct”.
A correct label, she said, irrespective of the jurisdiction, “must meet regulatory requirements, give sufficient information about the product and advertise the product”.
She highlighted that the JS CRS 5:2015, the Jamaican standard for pre-packaged foods, is similar to packaging standards across the US and the UK, which require that product labels are sectioned into a principal display panel (PDP) and an information panel (IP).
The PDP, also known as the front label on a product, is the part of a food label that is most likely to be displayed to the customer when being sold, while the IP would contain the nutrition facts, ingredient statement, allergen declaration and the name and place of the business that manufactures the product.
Another similarity among the standards is that they clearly outline that the net quantity declaration be displayed on the PDP. For Jamaica, however, “the net content shall be declared in the metric system. If
the imperial system is used to declare the net content, it shall be stated in conjunction
with the metric,” Bailey explained.
The standards also require that the ingredients list is present on the information panel of the product label and be listed in decreasing order of proportions by weight or volume. This is except for products that contain only one ingredient.
Meanwhile, she informed that the date mark, batch code, name and address statement must also be included on the information panel of the label. Bailey reminded businesses that “if products are labelled correctly for the Jamaican market… there is hardly much to add for the [international] market”.
Meanwhile, technical services manager at the JBDC Incubator & Resource Centre (IRC), Collin Porter, highlighted some of the reasons why adhering to regulatory standards for food product labels and packages is important.
“The law requires that food products must be properly labelled in order for them to be retailed. If they do not have proper labelling and packaging, they (products) cannot enter the market and they might be removed from the shelves,” Porter explained.
“As part of the process, whenever someone designs an information label, it has to be submitted to the Bureau of Standards for approval. You can’t just make a label, put on information and then put it on the shelf like that, as it has to be approved by the Bureau,” he said.
Business owners who might need assistance with labelling their products may reach out to the JBDC Incubator Resource Centre via phone at 876-758-3966-8, or through its website at https://www.jbdc.net/services/technical-services/.
Persons may also visit the IRC, located at Unit 10A,76 Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston 13.