By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) is aiming to adopt standards for the labelling of goods and products, disclosing yesterday that prepackaged foods were a particular concern.
It made these disclosures during a “sensitisation meeting” to establish technical committees for the adoption of standards in the labelling of goods/products at its Bacardi Road headquarters.
The Bureau invited private sector stakeholders to serve as members on a National Labeling Committee to adopt standards for prepackaged goods; the specification requirements for labelling of prepackaged goods; specification for the labelling of goods; and the labelling of aerosol liquids and tobacco products.
“Right now we are beginning to look at five additional standards, and in the coming months we will look at others as well,” said Dr Renae Ferguson-Bufford, the Bureau’s director.
“There are thousands of standards. We don’t need to reinvent any wheel. We are members of a lot of international organisations and we are just going to be looking at adopting international standards to national standards.”
Dr Ferguson-Bufford explained that the Bureau currently has three standards - specifications for prepackaged water, the code of hygiene for packaged water and the code of practice for food hygiene- which are in the final phase of approval.
“Those are in the hands of the Standards Council. Those three standards are at the final stage of approval, and then they will go to Cabinet for the final vetting and be publicised and gazetted,” Dr Ferguson-Bufford said.
“There are many labelling standards, but Bahamians have been speaking to us especially about the labelling of prepackaged foods and goods.
“Additionally, public health has been asking for the labelling of tobacco products. If you go into any of the supermarkets, one would see that, especially when we prepackage foods, we are not putting the proper labelling on items.
“Items like cheese, for instance, especially when we are prepackaging it, we are not even putting cheese on the label, and if it is there, there is only the weight and there is no expiration date, the importer and the nutritional facts on the item,” added Dr Ferguson-Bufford.
“There are proper specifications and requirements that should go on labels even when they are prepackaged. It is for the protection of the consumer and the environment. We need to ensure that we are meeting international best practices. That is the importance of these technical committee meetings and the development of standards in the national interest of the country and our consumers.”