R.A Consulting collaborated with the GCC Standardization Organization (GSO) on the training on International and GCC regulations related to healthy food, hosted by the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) with the participation of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), the Ras al Khaima Municipality, the Public Authority for Food and Nutrition (PAFN) of Kuwait and a large representation from the private sector including the GCC Food and Beverage Alliance.

    The training highlighted the regulatory developments on health and nutrition at global level and focused on the policies and measures being implemented in the GCC in line with WHO recommendations such as on nutrition labelling, front of pack labelling with the introduction of a voluntary traffic light labelling system, the gradual introduction of excise taxes of 50% on carbonated beverages and 100% on energy drinks across GCC countries, the GSO guideline on salt reduction, the measures to limit the levels of industrial transfats in food products, as well as voluntary reformulation initiatives on sugar, salt and fat. The SFDA, ESMA and other representatives of the public sector indicated that market studies, national nutrition surveys, awareness programs on healthy diets, and education campaigns on food labels and food product composition are underway to support these measures.

    The training also gave the opportunity to highlight some of the challenges faced by the private sector such as in the different implementation of GSO standards and technical regulations at national level, the frequency of amendments being recently introduced to technical regulations and the short timeline given by some Member States to implement these amendments.

    The SFDA presented the SFDA Strategy for Healthy Food in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 that is being implemented in Saudi Arabia with the support of the Ministry of health and which contains a number of strategic objectives aiming at reducing the burden of NCDs in the country and at increasing consumers awareness on healthy diets and lifestyles. The SFDA also announced that a pledge will be signed with the members of the GCC Food and Beverage Alliance (GCC FBA) and some local companies on September 12, making Saudi Arabia the first country in the Middle East region to introduce such an initiative.

    The training concluded with a panel discussion that gave the opportunity to emphasize the importance of continuing on the path of harmonization of food regulations in the GCC and to address the opportunities for public – private partnerships and collaboration between various stakeholders in the development of policies and measures such in the area of food product reformulation.

    The recommendations of the training will be addressed by the GSO at their next technical committee.

    For more information please contact us at



    The 71st World Health Assembly meeting that took place on 21–26 May 2018 in Geneva concluded its sessions by adopting a number of resolutions on public health issues such as poliomyelitis, cholera, tuberculosis, noncommunicable diseases, the shortage of medicines and vaccines among other topics.

    Delegates renewed their commitment to invest and scale up nutrition policies and programmes to improve infant and young child feeding. A new report was launched on the implementation of the Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes, highlighting that six additional countries have adopted or strengthened their regulations on marketing of breastmilk substitutes.

    Delegates welcomed a proposed five-year global strategic plan to improve public health preparedness and response, through implementation of the International Health Regulations, and agreed on a resolution on digital health urging Member States to prioritise the development and wider use of digital technologies in health.

    By 2023, the targets is to achieve one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage, one billion more people better protected from health emergencies; and 1 billion more people enjoying better health and wellbeing.

    Member States also endorsed the WHO Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA). The plan’s goal is a 15% reduction in the global prevalence of physical inactivity in adults and in adolescents by 2030.

    The Assembly recognized that enhanced political leadership is needed to accelerate prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), as well as implementing cost-effective and feasible “best buys” and other recommended interventions on physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets. Member States reiterated their commitment, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), to reduce by one-third by 2030 premature deaths from NCDs, primarily cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, and to promote mental health and wellbeing.

    The delegates called for stepped up action on NCDs, and urged the participation of Heads of State at the Third United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of NCDs taking place on 27 September 2018 in New York, and which will undertake a comprehensive review of global and national progress achieved on measures to prevent and control NCDs.

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    FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee Meeting for the Near East (CCNE09), 15-19 May 2017, Rome, Italy

    The 9th session of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee meeting for the Near East (CCNE09) took place on the 15 – 19 of May in Rome, and concluded with the adoption of the draft report that will be submitted to the 40th session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC40) for adoption in July.

    Food contamination and weak national food control systems were identified as the main issues of concern for the countries of the region. The Committee agreed on the need to address food fraud in the region by developing national strategic plans, reinforcing traceability systems and adopting a risk-based approach.  The Committee also recognised the importance of enhancing Codex work on (i) Reduction of Mycotoxins especially in cereals (ii) MRLs for Pesticides and (iii) Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs).

    The delegation of Egypt will prepare a discussion paper on Halal products to harmonise terminologies and definitions, taking into account the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation/SMIIC standards as reference documents, for consideration at the CCNE next session.

    Members highlighted the challenges in adapting Codex standards to national needs, and the need to increase regional collaboration and to harmonise key regulations among Member States.

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    The 22nd Session of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Africa will be held from 16 – 20 January 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya.

    Discussions will focus among others on the opportunities for building regional markets through use of Codex Standards, the food safety and quality situation in the countries of the region, the prioritization of the needs in the region and possible approaches to address them, the relevance of existing regional standards, the need for new standards, and the Codex work relevant to the region.

    For more information about the daily sessions and the final report please contact us at

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    Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) meeting, 5-9 December 2016, Hamburg, Germany

    The 38th session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses will discuss among others key topics such as the review of the draft NRVs for Vitamin E, Proposed Draft NRV-NCD for EPA and DHA Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Review of the Standard for Follow-Up Formula, Discussion paper on claim for “free” of trans fatty acids, and alignment of food additive provisions in standards developed by CCNFSDU.

    For more information about the daily sessions and the final report please contact us at

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    RA Consulting Training with the GSO and Ministry of Health, 24-26 October 2016, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    RA Consulting gave a three days training on Food labelling, Nutrition and Health claims, Food Additives and Contaminants in partnership with the GCC Standardization Organization (GSO) and the Ministry of Health. The training focused on regulatory developments at global level and in the GCC, with highlights on EU regulations and Codex Alimentarius standards. The training included representatives from the public and private sector and it concluded with recommendations on the importance of harmonization among GCC countries for the sound implementation of GSO standards by the private sector and the compliance with regulations.