The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), in collaboration with the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), is working assiduously to strengthen the National Quality Infrastructure in Barbados, as well as the technical regulatory mechanism to restrict the availability of substandard goods and services in the market.
This move towards the development and implementation of standards and an efficient National Quality Infrastructure will require increased private sector participation in adhering to conformity assessment which will assist government in administering its regulatory programmes.
In recent months, the DCCA has witnessed an increase in labelling standards infractions, which must be addressed urgently. The main labelling infraction that is creating a challenge to the Trading Standards Inspectorate at the Department is the labelling of products in a foreign language only; in particular, Spanish, and Chinese.
The DCCA, therefore, wishes to remind distributors, importers and other private enterprises that commercial trade in Barbados is governed by mandatory specifications or regulations, which are enshrined in BNS 5: Part 1:1974 Specification for labelling of commodities (General) and BNS 5: Part 2: 2004 labelling of pre-packaged goods. For ease of reference, both of these documents, as well as other relevant documents, can be purchased from the BNSI’s offices at Flodden Culloden Road, St. Michael.
The DCCA and BNSI also reiterate that the information on the label must be clear, prominently displayed, readily legible, and more importantly, presented in the English Language, – the official language of Barbados.
In relation to pre-packaged products, the Standards Act: Part IV Section 17 (1) (b) states that “all labels used on pre-packaged products are required to be in English language, but that language need not be the only language used thereon.” To ensure legibility of the information declared on the product label; letters and numbers shall be not less than 1.6 mm in height.
All product labels shall declare the following:
- The common name of the good, product or food item accompanied by the trade name or brand name as controlled by the manufacturer;
- The name and address of the manufacturer (for products resulting from a manufacturing process), the packer (for agricultural produce), the distributor (for products produced for distribution by secondary companies), importer, exporter or vendor; as appropriate;
- The Country of Origin of the product/food. When a product undergoes processing in a second country, which changes its nature, the country of processing shall be declared as the country of origin for the purpose of labelling;
- Statement of the net contents in the metric system (Système International d’Unités);
- Description of the main ingredients or components;
- Lot Identification or Batch Number;
- The date of minimum durability (a best before date or a use-by date); and
- Instructions for the correct storage and use of the product.
It is the responsibility of any person who sells or distributes goods or products to the public to ensure that these goods or products are labelled as required by the National Standards. The DCCA will be rejecting any products found to be in breach of the Barbados National Standards.
It is important to note that a person who “produces, imports, sells or exports a commodity that does not conform to a compulsory standard”; or contravenes section 17 (2) or 18 of the Standards Act, which states that “No person shall label commodities contrary to the labelling required by the relevant Barbados National Standard” or “No person shall sell, import or advertise any pre-packaged products unless the product has applied to it a label conforming to the relevant Barbados National Standard,” is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of three years or to both.
The Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce is committed to the development of businesses and business activity in Barbados. However, the Ministry equally recognises the need for products to conform to Barbados’ National Standards.
Under the consumer protection mandate of the DCCA, product conformity with respect to labelling allows consumers to have easy access to information that assists them with making rational decisions and choices in their best interest. Businesses also benefit through increased trust and consumer confidence. The Ministry, through the DCCA and BNSI, therefore urges your fullest cooperation as Barbados seeks to improve its National Quality Infrastructure.