There are a number of laws and local council regulations setting out the food labelling and importation requirements in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Whilst the requirements for food labelling are set out in various federal commercial and consumer protection laws, each individual Emirate is responsible for implementing such laws.
All products for sale in the UAE must be in Arabic and often this requirement is met by placing Arabic text stickers close to the product barcodes. Stickers however must be first approved by the local municipality and depending on the type of product, specific information must be listed.
Importation of products into the UAE must be through importers/distributors registered with the relevant local municipality. Such registered importers are responsible for having the product labels approved and must arrange for necessary laboratory testing before approval for certain products will be given. Products containing alcohol and alcoholic beverages can only be imported through specific authorized importers and require separate approvals. There are also specific Emirates standards for individual food items to ensure food safety and compliance with local requirements (such as halal ingredients) with some products having a maximum set alcohol content which may occur through natural fermentation (i.e., chocolates, energy drinks).
Each municipality within the UAE are very active in ensuring the safety of food products which are imported into the country. If a product is found to be unfit for human consumption or if it does not comply with local labelling requirements, the product will be either destroyed by the local municipality or re-exported to the country of origin. Depending on the severity of the violations, fines can also be imposed.
If you have any questions regarding the importation or labelling of products within the UAE or the Middle East, please do not hesitate to contact Melissa Murray.