NEWS

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    National Nutrition Strategies for 2017- 2020 to prevent and control Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in GCC countries

    The Governments of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are introducing measures targeting foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) based on the policies and recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO). With the support of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO), GCC countries are finalising their National Nutrition Policy for 2017-2020 and Action Plans for the prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), based on the commitments made in the Political Declaration of the UN High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of NCDs.

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Oman among others have included in their national nutrition policy a set of measures such as restrictions on the use of palm oil in food products, gradual salt/sodium reduction targets, replacing Transfatty Acids with Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, and gradual sugar reduction targets, among others.

    A GCC Standardization Organization (GSO) standard regulating the maximum levels permitted for transfatty acids contained in foodstuffs was adopted, and the GSO Member States are also working on a voluntary standard on Traffic Light Labelling, based on the UK Food Standards Agency model.

    With the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), GCC countries have developed and ratified a common Value Added Tax (VAT) framework agreement and a unified law on selective excise taxes which foresees the taxation of tobacco and energy drinks at 100%, soft drinks at 50%.

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    European Parliament votes resolution to limit Transfats in processed foods

    The European Parliament has voted a resolution to limit industrially-produced Trans-fatty Acids (TFA) in processed foods and has called on the European Commission to propose as soon as possible, preferably within two years, mandatory limits on TFAs in order to reduce their intake and risks factors linked to their consumption such as cardiovascular disease. Denmark, Austria, Hungary and Latvia have already introduced mandatory limits for the content of transfats in food products. The legal limits of 2% on transfats in oils and fats set by Denmark in 2003, was considered a successful measure by MEPs.

    In the U.S, food companies have until 2018 to eliminate partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the primary dietary source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids, from their products.

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    New Halal scheme in the GCC

    The GCC is in the process of reforming the halal market requirements. The UAE has introduced a new halal scheme, applicable starting from 2017, under which Halal Accreditation Bodies and Halal Certification Bodies have to be registered in the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) database in order to be operational. Halal products will also have to carry a National Halal Mark.

    At the global level, discussions are taking place around the revision of the Codex Alimentarius standard on halal Guidelines for the Use of the Term Halal.