ISLAMABAD - Commerce Division has notified new labelling requirements for import of food items into the country, making it mandatory that the ingredients of food products are printed in Urdu and English languages.

The ECC considered and approved proposal of Commerce Division for amendments in the Import Policy Order 2016, further beefing up existing labeling requirements for import of edibles, especially halal products. The step would ensure clarity on ingredients of the imported products in Urdu language for benefit of the consumers.

Following the decision, the Commerce Division has issued notification on decision on the new requirements taken by the ECC of the Cabinet in its meeting held on Tuesday. According to the notification, the import of food products shall be subject to the conditions that: (i) the food products at the time of import have at least 66% of the shelf life remaining from the date of manufacturing; (ii) the ingredients and details of the product (e.g. nutritional facts, usage instructions etc) of the food product are printed in Urdu and English languages on the packaging; (iii) the logo of the Halal certification body is printed on the consumer packaging; and (iv) the shipment is accompanied by a ‘halal certificate’ issued by a halal Certification Body.

Though the import of food products with ‘haram’ contents was already prohibited under the Import Policy Order, the halal certification was not mandatory to be produced at the time of import. It was, therefore, very difficult to ascertain if an edible product declared as halal was actually halal or not.

“The labeling requirements of food items are essential for human health and safety as many countries make it mandatory that the ingredients of the food products are printed in the local language for the convenience of the consumer”, said the official spokesman of the Commerce Division. “The new requirements will ensure that our consumers are aware of the ingredients of the edible products they consume, keeping in view their safety and belief”, he added.