Local manufacturers of packaged food and drink products are being given the assurance that they will have time to make necessary changes to comply with pending labelling requirements.
In fact, Cheryl Lewis, Technical Officer with the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), said no firm timeline has yet been given.
“They will know when everything is happening. There will be provisions for the manufacturers,” she assured.
“It would not be implemented just like that. There will be notice. There will be a statement as to when the grace period would be [and] when it would come into effect. The intent is not to disadvantage any manufacturer or importer,” Lewis told Barbados TODAY.
A front of package nutrition label indicates basic nutrition information on the food or drink product, such as the level of sugar, sodium and fat.
Local manufacturers are said to be fearful that the requirement of a front of package label would be implemented by the end of this year. They believe this would come at a major cost to them, especially at a time when business is slow in a tight economy.
However, Lewis explained that the plan was still in the draft stage, and manufacturers would be kept up-to-date.
“The standard is being developed as a regional document, and it is still in the draft stage. Things could change because it is a draft,” she explained.
She said while there was a move to have the new standard in place, a decision has not yet been taken and therefore it could be “another couple of months” before a final draft presented.
Lewis further explained that while each Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state would be required to make the change, they would be required to give their local manufacturers adequate notice.
The labelling proposal was made several years ago for all CARICOM states, which meant a revision of the 2010 CARICOM Regional Standard for specification for labelling of pre-packaged foods.
The idea was subsequently put on the agenda of the Heads of Government meeting two years ago, which was then followed by the development of a draft policy with the input from each member state.
A copy of the final draft is to be presented to the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) later this year, and should then become a document of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standard and Quality (CROSQ).