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08 December 2023

Food traders face deadline on Arabic labelling rules

By VM Sathish



Traders importing food for local consumption in Dubai or re-export must comply with new regulations issued by the municipality.

Importers have been given until the end of March to obey the rules, which have been prepared in accordance with the new food quality standards of the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma).

Products must be labelled in Arabic and any consignments that do not comply with this requirement will be turned back at the ports, a senior official from Dubai Municipality’s Food Control Department told Emirates Business.

“Arabic labelling has been made compulsory for all food products coming to UAE ports for local consumption or re-export,” said the official.

“We have advised all food traders to comply with the Arabic labelling requirement because some products are entering the country without proper labelling.

Traders have to comply with the new guidelines within the first three months of 2008.

“While many traders follow the Arabic labelling requirements, some supermarkets and hypermarkets still display food products without the correct labelling.

“After the three-month notice period such food products will not be allowed entry into the UAE.”

Last August, Esma introduced the Emirates Quality Mark, or Al Alama, which guarantees that products meet UAE, regional and international standards.

The municipality official said health inspectors would be increasing the frequency of their visits to premises of local food companies – especially those producing dairy products and meat – to ensure they comply with Al Alama requirements.

Production and expiration dates have to be printed on the original package or label – writing the dates by hand or putting them on a sticker are prohibited.

The official revealed that 40 health inspectors were stationed at each of Dubai’s ports to ensure food importers and re-exporters complied with the Arabic labelling requirements.

“For meat, poultry or related products, an original Halal certificate issued by an Islamic organisation approved by the UAE Government is required and import consignments without Halal certificate will be detained at the port.

Traders have been advised to register products with the Food Import and Re-Export System, an e-network covering all the areas regulated by the municipality. These include imports, re-export, label approval, health certificates and food destruction applications and certificates.


The numbers


40 health inspectors are being stationed at each of Dubai’s ports to ensure food importers and re-exporters complied with the Arabic labelling requirements.