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Implementation of Food Labeling Requirements

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Title: Implementation of Food Labeling Requirements under DOH AO 2014-0030 of            Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise: Basis for Enhanced Implementation

 Author: JOEFRE P. CERBOLLES

CHAPTER 1

THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND

Introduction

        The Food and Drug Administration under the Department of Health is primarily mandated to protect the health of the Filipino and as such to establish standards and regulations on processed food products to ensure safety of these prior to consumption by the general public, as stated in Republic Act (RA) No. 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009, as well as, RA No. 10611 or the Food Safety Act of 2013.

        On the other hand, the Consumer Act of 1992 or RA No. 7394, stated that: “The State shall enforce compulsory labelling, and fair packaging to enable the consumer to obtain accurate information as to the nature, quality and quantity of the contents of consumer products and to facilitate his comparison of the value of such products.”

The DOH Administrative Order (AO) No. 2014-0030 entitled “Revised Rules and Regulations Governing the Labelling of Prepackaged Food Products Further Amending Certain Provisions of Administrative Order No. 88-B s. 1984 or the ‘Rules and Regulations Governing the Labelling of Prepackaged Food Products Distributed in the Philippines’ and for Other Purposes” was developed and finalized for this purpose, and it has been implemented since October 2014. Now on its 5th year of implementation, it is necessary to

determine how effective was its implementation down to the Micro- and Small- Enterprises by the conduct of Gap Analysis in this study.

Currently, the 11 mandatory labelling requirements for processed food products include the following:

(1)  Product Name or Name of Food Product,

(2)  Brand Name and/ or Trade Mark,

(3)  Complete List of Ingredients in descending order of proportion,

(4)  Net Content or Drained Weight,

(5)  Name and Address of Manufacturer; Repacker, Packer, Importer, Trade or Distributor,

(6)  Lot Identification Code,

(7)  Storage Condition or Instruction,

(8) Expiry or Expiration Date/ Use-by-date/ Consume Before Date (Recommended last consumption date),

(9) Food Allergen Information,

(10) Direction/ Instruction(s) for Use, and

(11) Nutrition Facts/ Nutrition Information/ Nutritive Value.

Several bodies, such as World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization, are encouraging countries to harmonize their food and nutrition regulations with recommendations, guidelines and international standards like those for Codex Alimentarius. These organizations envisage obstacles to trade and movement of food

products between nations, which would open doors to opportunities and new markets for the food sector. In turn, economic growth would be enhanced by greater food trade and permit

customers a greater choice of goods. Inevitably harmonization that is embracing brings together challenges and cost implications which need to be overcome. The harmonization process is irregular and complicated in light of the activities that countries have to tackle; for example, establishing labs, strengthening abilities and updating legislation. It provides an account of the status of harmonizing labelling of foodstuffs from the area and explains the advantages, challenges and implications for consumers, the food industry and governments (Kasapila and Shaarani, 2011).

In support of the tasks that emanated from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) in 2015, the Philippines, through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), filed a proposal for a survey that will collect information to deal with market, in addition to problems on food packaging, labeling growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Background of the Study

Based on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Survey on Packaging and Labelling Requirements for Pre-packaged Food Products, conducted in 2016 among 14 Member Economies, “one of the APEC priorities for 2015 is ‘Mainstreaming Small and Medium Enterprises into Global and Regional Markets.’ Among its sub-themes are 1) Promoting Inclusive Growth through Sustainable and Resilient SMEs; 2) Advancing

Modernization and Standards and Conformance of SMEs and 3) Removing Barriers to SME trade, including Entry to Markets.”

The value of is accentuated by these priorities bolstering collaboration on working hand-in-hand in addressing SME problems to capitalize on the tariff liberalization occurring in the world and the Asia Pacific. They offer a platform to keep the discussion of obstacles to SME commerce in the area identified including issues in 2011. Varying requirements are challenging to meet given the challenges in demonstrating conformance at a manner that is accurate and trusted and getting information. As the primary body which coordinates standards and conformance initiatives in APEC including issues related to the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures (SPS) is at a vantage point to encourage the SME Working Group (SMEWG) initiatives to boost competitiveness of SMEs in Asia Pacific.

To understand the issues as well as to With SMEWG with a view to addressing issues related to standards and conformance, forge a collaboration, the Philippines suggested intersessionally a SCSC Workplan in Service of SCSC-SMEWG Collaboration that contains activities that can mainstream SMEs problems from vice versa and the SCSC schedule. One of the actions is cooperation in capacity building initiatives and information sharing on labelling and packing requirements, standards and education materials.

Literature has shown that while there is a significant reduction of tariffs through time, non-tariff measures (NTMs) have especially been on the upswing. This is evident to the rising number of specific trade concerns (STCs) brought into the WTO TBT Committee for debate. Vast majority of the STCs involved labelling requirements assessment requirements, in addition to food labelling.

While it is true that standards exist from CODEX Alimentarius Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations regulations on food labeling varied among markets, which might lead to problems to SMEs particularly to the business sector.

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