FDA HOLDS STAKEHOLDERS MEETING WITH TOMATO IMPORTERS.
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) on the 14th February 2019 held a stakeholder meeting with importers of Tomato and Tomato products to discuss issues relating to the standard for tomato mix products. The meeting extensively discussed the standard requirements for the production of tomato mix.
Opening the meeting, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Food and Drugs Authority Mrs. Delese Darko welcomed the participants and reminded them of a previous meeting which was held on 27th November, 2017 where tomato and tomato mix products were expansively discussed, resulting in a number of recommendations made, which were to be implemented in May 2019.
Mrs. Darko further informed the participants that the FDA has since been engaging all stakeholders on how to address these challenges and has received a lot of feedback on the issues.
The CEO further explained that although the FDA is aware of the increase in innovation and advancement in food technology leading to innovative products finding their way onto our markets including tomato mix, feedback from consumers however indicated that the tomato mix products on our markets cannot be distinguished from the conventional tomato paste since the labels are similar.
In view of these confusion and in accordance with section 103 subsection (2) (a) of the Public Health Act 2012, which states that ” Food is misbranded if a product is an imitation of, resembles any other product or food product in a manner likely to be confused with that food or food product under the name of which it is sold and is not plainly and conspicuously labeled so as to indicate it’s true character.”
The FDA has developed new guidelines to regulate the label presentation of Tomato Mix products to clearly distinguish it from tomato paste
The objective of the meeting, therefore, was to inform industry of the new guidelines that the FDA has developed for the regulation of tomato and tomato seasoning mix and to further take constructive inputs from the industry to enable a smooth implementation of the guidelines.
The CEO further reiterated the fact that Food regulation is not the sole responsibility of the regulator, rather a collective responsibility where Industry also plays a major role. It is therefore important that both the regulator and industry work together to achieve this goal.
After extensive deliberation on the date for the implementation of the new guideline it was agreed that, the agreed date of 19th May, 2019 is maintained as originally scheduled.
However, at the end of the meeting and based on new recommendations made, Industry asked for a couple of weeks to come back to the FDA with its finalized decision with regards to colors for the tomato mix products to enable consumers distinguished between the tomato mix and tomato paste.