Abu Dhabi, UAE: A green-and-blue logo will soon be featured across healthy bakery and dairy products in Abu Dhabi following the launch of an emirate-wide certification scheme for pre-packaged foods.
The scheme will initially focus on certifying bakery and dairy products as these are some of the most widely consumed groups, officials at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad), which regulates healthcare in the emirate, announced at a press conference in the capital on Monday.
“Eating right is an essential element of adopting a healthy lifestyle, and this move aims to make healthier food choices available and accessible for residents,” said Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, director of public health and research at Haad.
“By purchasing items marked with the Weqaya logo, residents can be sure that they are buying food that is good for them, and that its nutrition value has been verified,” she added.
The voluntary certification programme will begin in January 2017, and will be carried out in partnership with the emirate’s food sector regulator, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, and its infrastructure regulator, the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council (QCC). Its pilot phase is targeted at food producers based in the UAE.
The logo itself is a green circle, with a blue heart and the word ‘Weqaya’, the Arabic word for ‘prevention’, inscribed within it. Alongside it, the stamp of the Abu Dhabi Trustmark indicates that the product has been tested, and conforms with health regulations.
Thamer Al Qasimi, acting director for communications and community services at Adfca, said that adding the logo to foods will help manufacturers differentiate their products, and offer them a competitive advantage.
“For consumers, there may be a slight increase in the prices of healthy foods, but this will be minimal, and outweighed by the benefits of eating healthy. After all, we have seen a marked increase in the number of people who actively seek out healthy food options,” Al Qasimi said.
Manufacturers who opt into the scheme will have to pay a renewable fee for the certification, QCC officials explained. However, it is not yet mandatory to enrol for the certification.
A similar programme was launched for restaurant-based dishes in the emirate in 2013. At present, 29 restaurants, including outlets at hospitals and hotels, are part of that scheme.
Haad officials said they will look into other food groups that can be certified in future, and will include those that are widely consumed and purchased.
Milk, and other fermented drinking products made from milk, cannot contain artificial flavours and sweeteners. Fat contents must be 0.7 grams of fat or less per 100 grams, and naturally occurring sugars must be 9 grams or less per 100 grams.
Yoghurt, laban and other fermented dairy products cannot have artificial flavourings and sweeteners. Fat content must 1.3 grams or less per 100 grams, while there should be 9 grams or less of naturally occurring sugars per 100 grams of product. Salt content must be 1.2 grams or less per 100 grams.
Cheese must contain 17 grams or less of fat per 100 grams, and salt content must be 1.2 grams or less per 100 grams.
Bread, crisp bread, biscuits and crackers must contain 25 per cent or more whole grains, and there should be 5 grams or more dietary fibre per 100 grams. Fat content should be 7 grams or less per 100 grams, sugar content must be 5 grams or less per 100 grams and salt content must be 1 gram or less per 100 grams.
© Gulf NewsDec 2016