Saudi Arabia: Shoura Council approves draft food system


The Shoura Council approved a set of draft rules and regulations for a comprehensive food system in the Kingdom.

The council’s 25th ordinary session was held under the chairmanship of its Vice Chairman Mohammed bin Amin Jaafri yesterday.

Assistant Secretary-General of the Council Abdulaziz Al-Yahya said the council approved the scheme comprising 46 articles which included the definition of food, food additives, its safety, hygienic practices, food handling, set standards for food, environmental and health requirements and packaging.

The proposals were forwarded for discussion by the council’s committee on health and environment.

During the session, the house empowered the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) to issue technical regulations and set standards for food and to approve the list of foodstuffs that are to be imported into the Kingdom in conformity with the country’s regulations.

The authority is also expected to identify establishments that handle food including their production facilities to ensure they are in accordance with the Kingdom’s regulations.

Accordingly, the SFDA would list the types of food that are prohibited in the Kingdom according to Islamic law, food that is harmful to health or unfit for consumption, food produced that contravene the regulations of the technical standards of food production and unsafe food or counterfeited goods.

Al-Yahya said the authority would also work out the registration procedures for food items that are to be marketed within the Kingdom.

The SFDA was established under a Council of Ministers resolution as an independent corporate body that directly reports to the head of the Council of Ministers. Its objective is to ensure the safety of food and drugs for man and animal and safety of biological and chemical substances as well as electronic products.

Its board of directors is headed by Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, and several other ministers connected to the food industry.

The main purpose of the SFDA is to regulate, oversee and control food, drug, medical devices as well as set mandatory standard specifications for them, whether they are imported or locally manufactured. The control and testing activities can be conducted in the SFDA or other agency’s laboratories. The SFDA is also in charge of consumer awareness programs on all matters related to food, drug and medical devices and all other products and supplies.

According to Ibrahim Al-Mohizea, vice president of SFDA for the food sector, the food industry in the Kingdom produces goods worth some SR250 million a day.

Only halal food is consumed throughout the Kingdom. Around 1.8 billion people in the world consume halal food and its global market is valued at SR2.5 trillion.

The house also discussed ways and means of exercising government control over cooperative insurance companies in the Kingdom. The proposal was submitted by the council’s finance committee, which had already received representations from the Supreme Judicial Council.