The competent authorities responsible for food control in the GCC countries recognize that effective and efficient inspection and certification systems are fundamental components of the trade in food. The competent authorities of the GCC have the common goal of an integrated and harmonized import inspection and certification system that is best practice, risk-based and meets without prejudice the obligations of the relevant World Trade Organization agreements. This system will be fit for purpose and will ensure consumer protection while facilitating trade.
The competent authorities of the GCC have the responsibility of ensuring that all food arriving in the GCC countries complies with the relevant GCC requirements.(1 )
The means of assurance provided by exporting countries can be provided in a number of ways e.g. documentation and certification, reference to other assurances provided through inspection activities by the competent authority in the exporting country or an officially-recognized party, trading arrangements based on the history of compliance of previous shipments of known origin.
This Guide documents a commitment to science-based import control systems and clearance procedures that are: applied in proportion to potential risks to consumers from imported food; responsive to new or emerging risks that may arise in the global food supply. They also address non-food safety( 2) (i.e. food suitability) requirements in a transparent and objective manner.
This Guide describes principles and regulatory requirements to be applied by the exporting country and the importing GCC countries in assuring the safety and suitability of shipments of imported food( 3). Specific attestations for animal and plant health certification are also provided in the Guide.
The Guide incorporates Codex, OIE, IPPC standards as international benchmarks where appropriate.
There is ongoing work in the GCC countries to harmonize all regulatory requirements for imported foods and provide a coordinated and efficient border inspection and clearance system. While regulatory requirements and procedures for imported foods are not as yet fully harmonized between the countries of the GCC, this Guide will contribute to the harmonization process. In particular, the countries of the GCC will continue to work towards a fully risk-based approach to assure the safety of imported foods.
The following words and expressions shall, unless the context otherwise requires, have the meaning hereby assigned to them:
Adulterated food: Food where certain materials have been added to its original ingredients for the purpose of reducing its quality and nutritional value, or where some of the nutrients have been removed partially or entirely without disclosing these changes on the food label.
Certificate of fitness for transport vehicle: Certificate issued by the concerned party (i.e. exporter, shipping agency or officially recognized third party) in the country of origin or exporting country that assures the fitness of the vehicle used for transporting food and proves the suitability to transport the exported food.
Competent authority: The official body or officially recognized body that has regulatory jurisdiction for food control.
Condemnation: The action taken by the competent regulatory authorities of the importing GCC countries to dispose rejected food proved unfit for human consumption.
Conditional release: Action taken by the competent authority to allow release of a consignment of food to the importer under prescribed conditions.
Consignment / Shipment: A defined collection of food products normally covered by a single certificate. It may consist of either a portion of a lot, a full lot, or a set of several lots.
Contaminant: Any substance not intentionally added to food, which is present in such food as a result of the production (including operations carried out in crop husbandry, animal husbandry and veterinary medicine), manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packing, packaging, transport or holding of such food or as a result of environmental contamination. The term does not include insect fragments, rodent hairs and other extraneous matter.
Delivery notice: An official document that authorizes the transfer of goods from the port of entry to the area of food inspection.
Documentary Check: A review of all documents accompanying the consignment.
Equivalence: The capability of different inspection and certification systems to meet the same objectives; i.e. the state where in sanitary measures applied in an exporting country, though different from the measures applied in an importing country, achieve, as demonstrated by the exporting country, the importing country’s appropriate level of sanitary protection.
Fitness for huma consumption: Food that is fit for human consumption according to its end use as specified by the technical regulations of the GCC, or approved alternative equivalent measures.
Food: Any substance, whether processed, semi-processed or raw, which is intended for human consumption, and includes drink, chewing gum and any substance which has been used in the manufacture, preparation or treatment of food but does not include cosmetics or tobacco or substances used only as drugs
Food Control: Mandatory, regulatory activity, carried out by the competent control authorities, for the purposes of protecting the health of consumers and to ensure the safety of food during all stages of food chain.
Food chain: All stages of food handling, including the primary production, importing, exporting, manufacturing, preparation, processing, wrapping, packaging, transporting, storing, distributing, serving and selling.
Food Handling: Production of food or manufacturing, preparation, processing, wrapping, packaging, catering, transporting, possessing, storing, distributing, serving, selling or donating for the purpose of human consumption.
Food Hygiene: All conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety and suitability of food at all stages of the food chain.
Food Inspection: Examination of food or food safety systems by the competent authorities in the importing country, for the purposes of control of production inputs, processes and final products through all stages of food chain, to verify their conformity to the technical regulations of the GCC, or approved alternative equivalent measures.
Food label: Any tag, brand, mark, pictorial or other descriptive matter, written, printed, stenciled, marked, embossed or impressed on, or attached to, a container of food.
Food Safety: Assurance that food will not cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared and/or eaten according to its ended use.
Food Suitability: Assurance that Food is acceptable for human consumption according to its ended use.
Food safety management system: A comprehensive system for all the procedures and control measures to ensure food safety, including the application of good hygiene practice (GHP), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), and traceability.
Food Traceability: The ability to follow the movement of a food through all stage(s) of production, processing and distribution.
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP): A scientific system which identifies, evaluates, and controls hazards which are significant for food safety.
Halal Certificate: Certificate issued by the country of origin or country of exportation by an accredited (GCC) Islamic agency (society), attesting that: the product (such as meat, fat, gelatin, rennet, the broth) has been prepared , produced and circulated in accordance with the rules of Islamic Sharia law; or the food which contains animal products or by-products is halal and has been produced in accordance with the rules of Islamic Sharia law; and that the food has been handled with equipment and instruments which are not against the teachings of Islamic Sharia law and in accordance with the GCC technical regulations.
Halal Slaughtering Certificate: Certificate issued by the country of origin by an accredited (GCC) Islamic agency (society), attesting that: the animal has been slaughtered in accordance with the rules of Islamic Sharia.
Hazard: A biological, chemical or physical agent in, or condition of, food with the Hazard potential to cause an adverse health effect
Health Certificate ( 4): A certificate (paper or electronic) issued by the competent authority in the country of origin or the country of exportation, attesting that the safety (and suitability) of the consignment of food is in accordance with the relevant technical regulations of the GCC (including registration numbers of food establishments), or approved alternative equivalent measures.
Health claim: Any representation that states, suggests, or implies that a relationship exists between a food or a constituent of that food and health. It includes the following:
Product Identity Check: A visual inspection verifying all documents accompanying the consignment and making sure they match the product itself.
Importer: A person or legal entity importing food to GCC.
List of contents: A packing List or invoice or any document issued by the exporting company in the country of origin or country of export, which describes and quantifies the food in the consignment.
Lot/batch: A definitive quantity of a commodity produced essentially under the same conditions have uniform characteristics such as origin, producer, packer, markings, consignor, batch No. etc.
Microbial contamination: The presence of microorganisms, including pathogens and their toxins, accidentally in food during handling within the food chain.
Nutrition claim: Any representation which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular nutritional properties including but not limited to the energy value and to the content of protein, fat and carbohydrates, as well as the content of vitamins and minerals and includes:
- - Nutrient function claims – a nutrition claim that describes the physiological role of the nutrient in growth, development and normal functions of the body
- - Other function claims – These claims concern specific beneficial effects of the consumption of foods or their constituents, in the context of the total diet on normal functions or biological activities of the body. Such claims relate to a positive contribution to health or to the improvement of a function or to modifying or preserving health.
- - Reduction of disease risk claims – Claims relating the consumption of a food or food constituent, in the context of the total diet, to the reduced risk of developing a disease or health-related condition.
- Nutrient content claim is a nutrition claim that describes the level of a nutrient contained in a food.
Port of entry: Land, sea or air port customs border which is designated as an entry point for shipments imported into any of the GCC countries.
Preventive detention: Action taken by the competent authority to detain a consignment of food at the port of entry when the food is suspected of not being compliant with GCC technical regulations.
Physical examination / Check: An actual physical evaluation (using sight, sense and smell) of food, label and packaging at the border of entry without the resource for laboratory analysis, including the visual inspection for general conditions of the consignment and the product identity check of its contents.
Release for re-export: Action taken by the competent authority, under official controls, to allow an importer to re-export a consignment not presenting any health hazard of food in its entirety within a prescribed time limit, having met all documentary and customs requirements, provided that the food is not used during the holding time and availing documents that prove the re-export of such consignment.
Reserve notification : Where a consignment of food is found to be non-compliant with GCC requirements, the Competent Authority will issue a reserve notification that states the reason for the reservation and the product will be detained under official control.
Risk: A function of the probability of an adverse health effect and the severity of that effect, consequential to a hazard(s) in food.
Risk analysis: Organized decisions making process related to food safety, based on a scientific basis and developing necessary precautions to manage a process consisting of three components: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication.
Sanitary measures(5): Any measure applied to protect human life or health within the territory of the country from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in food or feedstuffs, or from risks arising from diseases carried by foods which are animals, plants or products thereof or from risks arising from any other hazards in foods.
Requirements: The criteria set down or required by the competent authorities relating to trade in foodstuffs covering the protection of public health, the protection of consumers and conditions of fair trading.
Standards: A document that lays down, for normal and frequent use, the rules and instructions or characteristics of the products, operations or relevant methods of production thereof , the adherence to which shall not be compulsory. This document may include or examine in particular the terms, definitions, packing and the marking or labeling requirements to be applied to the products, operations or the methods of production.
Statement of entry (customs declaration): Document provided by the owner or his representative describing the food to be imported and that is in accordance with the relevant customs requirements of the GCC.
Technical regulations: Requirements issued by the GSO (Gulf Standards Organization) which are mandatory.
Temperature readings Record during transport: Total reading (paper or electronic) of temperatures during the transport of refrigerated and frozen food, through the use of (Thermographs) devices to measure the circulating air temperature or food temperature.
Temporary release: Action taken by the competent authority, under official controls, to allow, the importer to transfer a consignment of food from the port of entry to a warehouse, pending issuance of an official decision on release.
Vehicle: Any means including any part thereof, designated to transport food whether by sea, land or air.
- Nutrient comparative claim is a claim that compares the nutrient levels and/or energy value of two or more foods.
3. General Principles:
All food shipments/consignment imported to the countries of the GCC shall be subject to harmonized regulatory requirements(6
). Regulatory requirements will be subject to continuous review as the countries of the GCC work towards a fully unified regulatory environment(7
Inspection and certification requirements applying to food safety aspects of imported food will be risk-based to the greatest extent practicable, with control measures applied in proportion to likely risks to the consumer. The type and frequency of inspection at the time of import of shipments of food, and clearance procedures, will reflect this approach.
The technical regulations and standards of the GCC countries will be used as the primary basis for certification of food shipments by exporting countries. Where deemed appropriate by the GCC e.g. where current GCC technical regulations and standards are not comprehensive in terms of specific requirements for certain imported foods, the GCC may defer to Codex, OIE and IPPC standards, guidelines and recommendations as the basis for certification (and other assurances).
All aspects of the GCC inspection and certification systems will be documented and transparent, with details of regulatory requirements and operational procedures being made available to exporting countries and other stakeholders as requested.
The competent authorities of the GCC countries will strive for uniform implementation of regulatory requirements and operational procedures in the advent of multiple entry points for imported foods.
Certification of shipments, accompanied by full documentation of the details of each food shipment, are key components of import food controls applied by the countries of the GCC; the exporting country should take all measures to ensure the authenticity and accuracy official certification, and certification by officially-recognized bodies.
The legislation of the GCC countries provides for flexible certification and other alternative measure where the food control system applied by the exporting country’s competent authority is officially recognized by the GCC. This flexibility can be a consequence of a range of activities e.g. through audit of systems in exporting countries, recognizing registration of approved premises in exporting countries, memoranda of understanding, mutual recognition agreements, and equivalence agreements.
The GCC recognizes three levels of arrangements:
- Replication of the GCC requirements
- Recognition of an importing country system as “comparable” in terms of food safety outcomes even if different systems/requirements
- Systems/measures Equivalence following a formal evaluation of exporting country’s system/ measures.
As far as practicable, regulatory requirements for imported food will be applied equally to domestically-produced food.
The competent authorities of the GCC countries will provide for effective interchange of information on inspection and certification systems with competent authorities in other countries, and provide a mechanism for exchange of information in emergency situations.
4. Risk-based Approach to food safety requirements:
This Guide aims at promoting the application of risk-based food control systems through the systematic identification and classification of health risks associated with different foods in accordance with their intended use, therefore enabling effective and efficient allocation of government and industry resources in ensuring food safety.
4.1. Factors taken into account in application of the risk-based food control system:
Classification of imported foods:
Foods will be classified according to their potential to transmit food borne disease relative to their intended end use. This classification will be developed from generic risk profiles for different types of food and generally will be independent of country of origin or the particulars of a consignment
Risk profiles for classification of foods will include reference to:
- Likelihood of contamination with biological, chemical and/or physical hazards
- Likelihood of significant levels of contamination persisting throughout the food chain
- Potential risks to human health for the general population
- Potential risks to human health for susceptible sub-populations
- Effect of consumer food suitability demand on modifying risks(8).
Food will be classified into three general categories: high, medium or low potential risk to human health. GCC food classifications may change on the basis of new scientific evidence of potential food borne risks to human health.
Compliance history of imported foods:
The GCC countries will systematically document the compliance history of imported foods that have been certified or otherwise assured as meeting relevant GCC requirements. Evaluation of compliance history will primarily be based on the data collected from documentary checks, physical check including Product Identity checks and laboratory tests of imported food shipments from a particular country of origin.
Compliance information provided by the competent authority in the exporting country may also be taken into account.
Evaluation of compliance history (of food producers and country of origin) may also relate specifically to food types of particular interest e.g. high-risk foods or foods with characteristics that are of particular concern to consumers.
Documentation of compliance history will include reference to:
- Correctness of all documentation accompanying a food consignment, including attestations
- Results of physical checks/ examination including product identity check.
- Results of targeted laboratory testing.
Elements of compliance history include;
Number of non-compliances observed for the food product/supplier/country in a given year;
Severity of the non-compliance in terms of human health and consumer protection;
Published or confidential reports from other food control authorities on similar non-compliances;
4- Results of on-site inspection carried out by food control authorities in the exporting country;
Other relevant information from various sources (including media).
Evidence of new or emerging hazards in the food supply:
The competent authorities of the GCC countries will interact with competent authorities in other countries in the identification and risk management of new or emerging hazards in the food supply.
Where the GCC countries do not have the technical ability to monitor imported foods for new or emerging hazards, it is expected that the competent authority in the exporting country will have applied the same tests and safeguards as for food in their domestic market.
Whole of food chain approach to food safety:
The GCC countries recognize that the most effective and efficient means of mitigating food borne risks to the consumer are often achieved by application of control measures during primary production and processing in the country of origin. Further, port-of-entry inspection is recognized as a very limited means of assuring the safety and suitability of imported food.
Special arrangements with competent authorities in exporting countries that assure the safety of food during primary production and across the food chain are encouraged by the GCC countries.
These can include alternative measures based on:
- Food being certified as being produced in registered or otherwise officially- recognized food premises in the exporting country, and subject to audit by the GCC countries or their agents.
- Memorandum of understanding (MoU’s) between competent authorities
- Equivalency agreements Include Para on “Equivalency”
- Broader trade agreements e.g. mutual recognition of inspection and certification systems.
4.2. Risk-based food control system:
Port-of-entry inspection under the risk-based food control system will be based on:
Certification, exporting country alternative assurances, and import inspection requirements for all consignments of foods, being those specified in GCC technical regulations.
Type and frequency of inspections including documentary checks, physical examination/ check including Product Identity Checks and sampling that are developed from the criteria taken into account in application of the risk-based food control system
Application of a performance-based border of entry inspection system based on the level of compliance with GCC requirements over time. Once the compliance level is established through historical data compilation and analysis, more targeted risk factors may be included (i.e. Importer, Manufacturer/producer, Brand name and country of origin).
Special import inspection arrangements that recognize assurances provided by the competent authority in the exporting country.
Food products are classified into three categories according to the degree / extent of their potential risk to human health; these categories include high, medium and low risk foods.
The GCC Food Safety Committee will establish the list of foods under each of the above categories for approval by the GCC Ministerial Council. The lists shall also determine the frequency of various inspections (i.e. physical checks and samples for laboratory testing) to be carried out for the different risk categories of food and shall be adjusted/ updated to take into account new information or scientific data concerning food types and/or potential hazards. Operational components of the risk-based food control system are:
- Documentary checks of all consignments
- Physical checks/ examination including product identity check as required.
- Sampling and laboratory analysis of food as required
- Harmonized rules for determining the type and frequency of inspection
- Mechanisms for information exchange with the competent authority in the exporting country.
- Verification of quality assurance systems operated by importers where they contribute to official requirements.
Each GCC member country shall apply harmonized, risk-based rules in determining the frequency and type of inspection procedures to be followed to ensure food safety. This includes incentives for high levels of compliance.
5. Required Documents and Health Certificates:
All consignments of imported food must be covered by appropriate documentation and certification. The authenticity and accuracy of official certification and certification by officially recognized bodies will be periodically verified and audited by the countries of the GCC.
5.1 Required Documents and Health certificates(9):
All consignments must be accompanied by an original health certificate issued by the competent authority in the country of origin or an officially recognized body. The health certificate should attest to compliance with the GCC requirements countries and, where relevant, animal and plant health requirements.
Documentation issued or approved by the relevant competent authority or officially recognized bodies or other designated entities in the country of origin must include:
- Customs declaration
- Permit delivery(10 ).
- Commercial license / Commercial register in the relevant field.
- Health certificate(11).
- List of Contents.
- Halal Slaughtering Certificate for meat and poultry / Halal certificate for food items that contain ingredients of animal origin according to the requirements stated in section 6.3
- Supporting documentation for any labeled claims (nutrition claims, health claims, and other claims) as required.
Nutrition and health claims for food shall only be acceptable, if claim and wording thereof has been approved by internationally recognized scientific bodies.
- Temperature records where required
- Any additional documentation as requested by the competent authorities of the GCC, in case of incidents and emergency management
Electronically-transmitted health certificates are an acceptable alternative to paper certificates accompanying an imported food consignment where the electronic certification system has been accepted by the GCC countries as legitimate documents.
5.2 Health Attestations:
Health attestations should be declared in the relevant section of the standard forms of health certificates as listed in (Appendix 2), by the competent authority in the country of origin / country of dispatch as the main assurance of system compliance and product safety. The GCC requirements will be issued as annexes to this Guide.
An exporting country needs to certify or otherwise assure that the food meets the requirements of the importing country. The certification from the exporting country should indicate that the food meets the importing country (i.e. GCC) requirements.
In case where arrangements are applied (including Recognition of an importing country system as “comparable” in terms of food safety outcomes even if different systems/requirements and systems Equivalence following a formal evaluation of exporting country’s system, the relevant competent authority in the exporting country, under equivalence or other agreements, shall be able to certify establishments that wish to export to GCC countries. This, however, does not preclude the GCC country’s right to periodically audit the exporting countries relevant inspection system, including a sampling of the certified establishments.
In case where a certification of compliance has been issued by a third party operating in the country of origin/dispatch, the competent authority in the exporting country should ensure integrity, impartiality and independence of the official or officially recognized certification system.
In case where a foreign Meat establishment (slaughterhouse/processing plant) is interested in exporting to GCC, it should not start its exports to the GCC unless it has been approved by the GCC or the GCC have technical agreements with the competent authority of the exporting country.
Health Certificate for Export of Processed Food:
إن المنتج الغذائي مطابق للمتطلبات الخليجية.
Food product is in conformity with the existing GCC requirements .
تم إجراء عمليات تداول للمنتجات الغذائية وفقا للمتطلبات الخليجية وفي منشأه غذائية خاضعة للرقابة من قبل الجهة الرقابية المختصة و/ او الجهة المخولة رسميا، وتطبق نظام إدارة سلامة الغذاء استنادا إلى مبادئ نظام الهاسب أو ما يماثله.
The food product(s) was handled in accordance with the GCC requirements, at an establishment that has been subjected to inspections by the competent authority and/or officially recognized body and implements a food safety management system based on HACCP principles or an equivalent system .
Health Certificate for Export of Meat and Meat Products
إن اللحوم أو منتجات اللحوم مطابقة للمتطلبات الخليجية.
The meat/meat product is in conformity with the existing GCC requirements .
إن مصدر اللحوم مطابق لمعايير الصلاحية للاستهلاك الآدمي المحددة بواسطة المنظمة الدولية لصحة الحيوان.
The source of meat shall meet OIE criteria which related to fitness for human consumption .
تم ذبح الحيوانات في مسلخ مرخص ومعتمد من قبل الجهات المختصة في دول المجلس وتحت إشراف الجهة الرقابية المختصة للدولة المصدرة.
Animals have been slaughtered in a slaughterhouse that is approved by the GCC authorities and is under the supervision of the Competent Authority of exporting country .
أن اللحوم منتجة من حيوانات خضعت للفحص قبل الذبح وبعده من قبل الجهة الرقابية المختصة وذلك وفقاً للمتطلبات الخليجية.
The meat is produced from animals that have been subjected to ante-mortem and post- mortem inspection by the Competent Authority, in accordance with GCC requirements .
تم إجراء عمليات تداول اللحوم ومنتجاتها وفقا للمتطلبات الخليجية وفي منشأه خاضعة للرقابة من قبل الجهة الرقابية المختصة، وتطبق نظام إدارة سلامة الغذاء استنادا إلى مبادئ نظام الهاسب أو ما يماثله.
The meat and/or meat product was handled in accordance with the GCC requirements, at an establishment that has been subjected to inspections by the Competent Authority and implements a food safety management system based on HACCP principles or an equivalent system .
تم تطبيق الممارسات البيطرية الجيدة في استخدام الأدوية البيطرية (بما فيها محفزات النمو) والكيماويات الزراعية في الحيوانات الحية، وإن أية متبقيات في اللحوم متوافقة مع المتطلبات الخليجية.
Good veterinary practice has been applied in use of veterinary medicines (including growth hormones) and agriculture chemicals in live animals, and any residues in meat comply with GCC requirements .
أن مصدر اللحوم ومنتجاتها لم يتم ذبحها بقصد القضاء على الأمراض أو التحكم فيها.
The meat/meat product originates from animals that have not been slaughtered for the purpose of disease eradication /control
أن مصدر اللحوم ومنتجاتها حيوانات لم يتم تغذيتها بالبروتين الحيواني المصَنع، باستثناء تلك من الأسماك، ووفقاً للمتطلبات الخليجية.
The meat/meat product has not been derived from animals fed with processed animal protein, excluding fish meal, according to the GCC requirements .
Health Certificate for Export of (Milk, and Milk Products)(12)
إن الحليب أو منتجات الحليب مطابقة للمتطلبات الخليجية.
The milk/milk product is in conformity with the existing GCC requirements .
أن مصدر الحليب أو منتجات الحليب حيوانات سليمة وخاضعة للفحص البيطري من قبل الجهة الرقابية المختصة ومتوافقة مع المتطلبات الخليجية.
The milk /milk product has been derived from healthy animals that are subject to the official veterinary service inspections and are in compliant with GCC requirements .
تم إجراء عمليات تداول الحليب أو منتجات الحليب وفقا للمتطلبات الخليجية وفي منشأه خاضعة للرقابة من قبل الجهة الرقابية المختصة، وتطبق نظام إدارة سلامة الغذاء استنادا إلى مبادئ نظام الهاسب أو ما يماثله .
The milk/milk product was handled in accordance with the GCC requirements, at an establishment that has been subjected to inspections by the Competent Authority and implements a food safety management system based on HACCP principles or an equivalent system .
تم تطبيق الممارسات البيطرية الجيدة في استخدام الأدوية البيطرية (بما فيها محفزات النمو) والكيماويات الزراعية في الحيوانات الحية، وإن أية متبقيات في الحليب أو منتجات الحليب متوافقة مع المتطلبات الخليجية.
Good veterinary practice has been applied in use of veterinary medicines (including growth hormones) and agriculture chemicals in live animals and any residues in milk or milk product comply with GCC requirements .
Health Certificate for Export of Table Eggs and Egg Products
إن البيض أو منتجات البيض مطابقة للمتطلبات الخليجية.
The eggs/ products are in conformity with the existing GCC requirements .
إن مصدر البيض أو منتجات البيض مطابق لمعايير الصلاحية للاستهلاك الآدمي المحددة بواسطة المنظمة الدولية لصحة الحيوان.
The source of eggs/egg products shall meet OIE criteria which related to fitness for human consumption .
تم إجراء عمليات تداول البيض أو منتجات البيض وفقا للمتطلبات الخليجية وفي منشأه خاضعة للرقابة من قبل الجهة الرقابية المختصة، وتطبق نظام إدارة سلامة الغذاء استنادا إلى مبادئ نظام الهاسب أو ما يماثله.
The eggs/egg products were handled in accordance with the GCC requirements, at an establishment that has been subjected to inspections by the Competent Authority and implements a food safety management system based on HACCP principles or an equivalent system .
أن مصدر البيض من طيور لم يتم تغذيتها بالبروتين الحيواني المصَنع، باستثناء تلك من الأسماك، ووفقاً للمتطلبات الخليجية.
Eggs have not been derived from birds fed with processed animal protein, excluding fish meal according to the GCC requirements .
Health Certificate for Export of Products of Aquatic Animal Origin(13)(including Fish and fish Products, molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms)
إن المنتجات البحرية ذات ألأصل الحيواني مطابقة للمتطلبات الخليجية.
The products of aquatic animal origin are in conformity with the existing GCC requirements .
إن مصدر المنتجات البحرية ذات الأصل الحيواني من فصائل غير سامة ولا تُسبب أي علامات مرضية.
The products of aquatic animal origin are derived from non toxic species that do not cause any sign of disease .
في حال تربية الأحياء البحرية ذات الأصل الحيواني ضمن مزارع أو مناطق إنتاج بحرية، فان هذه المناطق خاضعة للرقابة على المتطلبات الصحية من قبل الجهة الرقابية المختصة.
Where aquatic animals are grown in farms or aquaculture production areas, hygiene requirements are under the control of the Competent Authority .
إن المنتجات البحرية ذات الأصل الحيواني مطابقة لمعايير الصلاحية للاستهلاك الآدمي المحددة بواسطة المنظمة الدولية لصحة الحيوان.
The products of aquatic animal origin shall meet OIE criteria which related to fitness for human consumption .
تم تغذية الأحياء البحرية ذات الأصل الحيواني على أعلاف صنعت وفقا لمتطلبات التصنيع الجيد ونظام تحليل المخاطر والتحكم بالنقاط الحرجة او ما يكافؤه وخالية من أية ملوثات فيزياوية او كيميائية أو بيولوجية محظورة دولية.
The aquatic animals have been fed from feed that is produced in compliance with GMP & HACCP principles or its equivalent and is free from any physical, chemical or biological contaminants that are prohibited internationally .
لم يتم تغذية الأحياء البحرية ذات الأصل الحيواني المستزرعة على بروتين حيواني، باستثناء مسحوق السمك شريطة ان لا يكون من أسماك مستزرعة من نفس الجنس.
The cultured aquatic animals have not been fed with feed containing animal protein excluding fish meal from different species than the cultured one .
تم إجراء عمليات تداول المنتجات البحرية ذات الأصل الحيواني وفقا للمتطلبات الخليجية وفي منشأه خاضعة للرقابة من قبل الجهة الرقابية المختصة، وتطبق نظام إدارة سلامة الغذاء استنادا إلى مبادئ نظام الهاسب أو ما يماثله.
The products of aquatic animal origin were handled in accordance with the GCC requirements, at an establishment that has been subjected to inspection by the Competent Authority and implements a food safety management system based on HACCP principles or an equivalent system.
Phytosanitary Certificate for Export of Plant and Plant products
تصادق هذه الشهادة على أن النباتات والمنتجات النباتية أو المواد الأخرى المذكورة هنا قد تم فحصها و/أو اختبارها وفقا للإجراءات المعتمدة المناسبة ووجدت خالية من آفات الحجر الزراعي التي حددها البلد المستورد، وتتفق مع الوضع الحالي لمتطلبات الصحة النباتية لدى دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي، بما في ذلك تلك الآفات غير الحجرية الخاضعة للوائح.
This is to certify that the plants, plant products or other regulated articles described herein have been inspected and/or tested according to appropriate official procedures, and are considered to be free from the quarantine pests specified by the importing country and to conform with the current phytosanitary requirements of the GCC countries, including those for regulated non-quarantine pests .
5.3. Halal Certificate/Halal Slaughtering Certificate:
Verification(14) of the Halal certificate/Halal slaughtering certificate must be undertaken for all relevant consignments of food. In the case of meat and meat products, the Muslim agency(15) (Societies and Islamic councils) in the exporting country that approved by the GCC will supervise the slaughter process and provide documentation according to GCC requirements.
Where meat is manufactured in a country different to the origin of that meat, the competent authority in the country of manufacture must provide certification that the meat used in the manufacturing is the same as that described in the original Halal slaughtering certificate provided by the country of dispatch.
Attestations set forth below must be recorded under the standardized form for Halal certificate and Halal slaughtering certificate as listed in (Appendix 3):
Halal Slaughtering Certificate for Export of Meat and Meat Products
تم الذبح بمسلخ مجاز من قبل الجهات المختصة بدول المجلس وتحت إشراف هيئة إسلامية مصرحة من قبل الجهات المختصة بدول مجلس التعاون الخليجي وبحضور مفوضها، وذلك باستخدام السكين وبأيدي قصابين مسلمين وفي مكان لا يسمح فيه بذبح الخنازير.
Slaughtering has occurred in an approved slaughterhouse and under the supervision of the designated Islamic Agency which has been approved by the concerned authorities in the GCC and in presence of the Islamic Agency representative, by Muslim butchers using the knife and in a place where swine is not permitted to be slaughtered .
أن منشأ اللحوم الطازجة (مبردة او مجمدة) من دولة ومسلخ مسموح لهما التصدير إلى دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي و مصدرهاحيوانات حلال.
The fresh meat (chilled or frozen) originated from a country and an establishment that is authorized to export Halal meat to GCC; and the animal source(16)is Halal .
Halal Certificate for Export of products of Meat Origin
أن الأغذية المحتوية على منتجات ذات أصل حيواني كالدهون ومشتقات اللحوم المستخدمة كأحد مكونات المواد الغذائية المصنعة (مثل الجيلاتين) قد تم استخلاصها تحت إشراف هيئة إسلامية معتمدة من قبل الجهات المختصة لدول مجلس التعاون الخليجي في بلد الصنع بناءاً على شهادة الذبح الحلال الأصلية الصادرة من هيئة إسلامية معتمدة من قبل الجهات المختصة لدول مجلس التعاون الخليجي في بلد المنشأ للحوم ، مع التأكيد على أن مشتقات اللحوم المستخدمة في التصنيع هي ذات اللحوم المذكورة بشهادة الذبح الحلال الأصلية.
Food Product of animal origin including fats & Meat derivatives (such as gelatin) used as one of the ingredients of the processed foods, have been extracted under the supervision of an Islamic Agency in the manufacturing country and approved by the GCC on the basis of the original Halal certificate of the slaughtered animals issued by an Islamic Agency approved by the GCC in the country of origin; assurance has been provided that the meat and fat derivatives used in the food processing are the same ones covered by the original Halal certificates .
7. Inspection and clearance of imported foods:
Steps in the inspection and clearance process for consignments of imported food are summarized in Annex 1. Inspection and clearance of consignments of imported food will be carried out according to GCC requirements and where relevant, the principles and standards of relevant international organizations e.g. Codex, OIE, IPPC.
7.1. Reserve notification and detention of consignment:
Where a consignment of food is found to be non-compliant with GCC requirements, the Competent Authority will issue a reserve notification that states the reason for the reservation and the product will be detained(17) under official control.
Situations where consignments will be detained include:
- Absence of a list of contents
- Incompatibility of food items described in the certificate with those in the consignment.
- Absence of original copy of required health certificate and/or reference number of electronic health certificate.
- The required health certificate being dated before the production date of the food
- The health certificate being issued after the date of shipment of the food
- The food production date being before the date of the Halal slaughter certificate.
- Absence of original copy of Halal slaughtering certificate with the imported meat or poultry consignments, and Halal certificate for the required food as mentioned in section 3: Definitions.
- Meat or meat products produced in food establishments/slaughterhouses not listed/approved by the GCC countries.
- Broken or changed security seals/locks prior to official inspection.
- Evidence of any fraudulent certification.
7.2. Temporary release
Temporary release(18)of a consignment may be allowed in the case of non-compliance with some import requirements not related to food safety, as long as the food is not beyond its use by date or banned. Arrangements for control during temporary release may include provision of a financial security by the importer and a declaration that the consignment will only be released after official clearance.
Temporary release of the consignment may be allowed, if the food is not spoiled, has not passed its shelf-life, or is not banned (nationally or internationally); the decision must be accompanied by a financial guarantee or written engagement not to dispose of the consignment until full release.
Temporary release of the consignment may be allowed in the case of violations that do not affect the safety of the food. In this case, the consignment must be appropriately handled, and the decision accompanied by a financial guarantee or written engagement not to dispose of the consignment until full release, taking into account the consignments present in regional land/water.
Where allowable under GCC requirements for detained consignments, the following may be requested from the importer:
a. Additional information from the manufacturer/supplier or the competent authority in country of origin and/or country of export to support claims on the conformity of the product.
b. Repeat laboratory analysis in an accredited laboratory and under official supervision of sample(s) that have been found non-compliant.
c. Re-configuration of the consignment so as to meet GCC technical regulations
d. Re-designation of the consignment as “not for human consumption.
e. Re-export the consignment
f. Destruction under the supervision of the competent authority
In case of non-provision of import documents, other than health or Halal certificates, the consignment may be detained under financial security, signed undertaken or temporary release for of 15 days, or other suitable period determined by competent authority until the relevant documentation is provided. In case of non-provision of import documents within the specified timeframe, the importer will be required to return the consignment to the country of origin or other country as per international trade guidelines.
The Competent Authority reserves the right to take all temporary precautionary measures on the consignment to protect consumers’ health(19) (i.e. lack of sufficient scientific evidence) including rejection and/or re-export of the consignment.
7.3. Automatically detained food:
Food is automatically detained under the custody of the importing country /Customs Department, where:
- Previous importations of the type of food have been repeatedly non-compliant
- Foods are prohibited from entry to GCC according to the competent authority decisions in the GCC members.
- The food has already been rejected by another country
- Food from countries or regions subject to international health warnings.
8. Food imported for non-commercial purposes
Foods imported for non-commercial purposes are designated as:
- Food of personal use - as determined by harmonized rules of the GCC countries
- Food samples for scientific research that will not be used for human consumption.
- Food promotion samples for non-commercial distribution for human consumption, accompanied by a health certificate and labeled with the term (free sample)
- Food samples for use in seasonal exhibitions and festivals where:
- the importer provides assurance as to the fitness of the foods for their intended purpose
- sale or distribution of the food is prohibited outside of or after the end of the event.
Foods imported for non-commercial purposes are exempt from some of the imported food requirements in this guide, as stated in GCC technical regulations and standards. These foods may be sampled for laboratory examination to confirm fitness for purpose if deemed necessary by the competent authority.
9. Food prohibited from importation on food safety grounds
The following foods are prohibited from entry and will not be inspected:
- Food not provided with food safety assurances by the competent authority in the country of origin/country of dispatch.
- Food from countries or regions subject to international health warnings(20).
- Food rejected by other countries on food safety grounds where the decision of rejection provides scientific evidence or sufficient information to indicate that the food is not safe for human consumption(21).
- Food religiously forbidden as per GSO technical regulations. (from food suitability perspective).
- Food with ingredients or additives that are not permitted based on scientific evidence or GCC requirements and international standards.
- Food from wild animals and plants that are not permitted based on scientific evidence or GCC requirements and international standards.
- Food designated as prohibited for health reasons as notified by the GCC.
Foods requiring special attention:
The following foods require special attention(22) during the inspection at the port of entry:
- Foods entering the border crossing point for the first time
- Foods not compliant with food safety standards in the country of origin/country of dispatch.
- Foods with history of repeated violations of GCC food safety standards.
- Foods rejected from other countries because of non-compliance with some import requirements not related to food safety.
10. Prohibition of importation of foods on sanitary or phytosanitary grounds:
Any consignment of imported food may be prohibited(23) from importation on sanitary or Phytosanitary grounds so as to protect the life and health of humans, animals, plants and the environment, as deemed appropriate by the countries of the GCC.
Any such ban is subject to the following provisions:
- Imposing and lifting of the prohibition will be based on scientific evidence and reference to international standard-setting bodies and other international authorities.
- Any prohibition or lifting of a prohibition by an individual country of the GCC will be reported immediately to the GCC secretariat and the GCC will confirm a harmonized decision as soon as practicably possible
- While the GCC will strive for a harmonized approach to imposing and lifting a ban, each GCC country reserves the right to impose or lift a prohibition on an individual basis. Other countries of the GCC will ensure that the prohibited foods will not enter that individual country.
- The GCC countries will only publish official statements on such matters after the decision to ban or lift a ban has been agreed upon and the statements will be in the form of official statements from the GCC secretariat or individual country(s) which issued the prohibition.
GCC Imported food Control procedures Flow Chart
Health certificates Forms
Halal Certificate /Halal Slaughtering Certificate Forms
- All GCC food standards and technical regulations are available at GSO website:
2 -The GCC food imports Guide tackles food suitability issues related to ethnic/religious considerations such as Halal food and labeling issues, which are considered as legitimate factors.
3 - Foods imported for personal use are not subject to the requirements in this guideline and are allowed where the packaging is intact and provides sufficient information to allow entry e.g. name and number of food establishment in the country of origin.
4 - The certificate template should be in certain format approved by GCC which is based on principles stated on codex. (Ref; codex CACIGL 38-2001).
5 - Sanitary measures include all law, decrees, regulations, requirements and procedures including, inter alia, end product criteria, processes and production methods, testing, inspection, certification and approval procedures, provisions on relevant statistical methods, sampling procedures and methods of risk assessment, and packaging and labeling requirements directly related to food safety.
6 - The guide is a mandatory document for imported food that regulates the various procedures and their homogeneity among the GCC states.
7 - Member states prepared and finalized a draft of the working mechanisms of this guide with the aim of applying inspection procedures in a coherent manner among the member states.
8 - The most important factor for the competent authorities to determine the level of risk for a particular food and the control measures thereof.
9 - The GCC countries do not have an approved and unified mechanism for conformity procedures. Therefore, they consider the attached certificates and their accuracy the main key to ensuring that the regulatory system and products comply with food safety requirements.
10 - The document that is issued by the shipping agency to the clearance agent/broker at the country of destination with general information on the vessel/ vehicle and its contents. Once the agent/broker receives this document, he/she can commence the customs paperwork and registration of the declaration form.
11 - The health certificate is the key assurance certificate that must be issued by the concerned competent authority, whereas the remaining of the documents entail flexibility as they can be issued by the relevant entities, The health certificate template should be in certain format approved by GCC which based on principles stated on codex. (Ref: codex CAClGL 38-2001).
12 - Dairy terms means names, designations, symbols, pictorial or other devices which refer to or are suggestive, directly or indirectly, of milk or milk products (CAC STAN 206 -1999).
13 - Aquatic Animals means all life stages (including eggs and gametes) of fish, molluscs, crustaceans and amphibians originating from aquaculture establishments or removed from the wild, for human consumption. (Aquatic Animal Health Code-2012 -OIE).
14 - GCC joint team that conducts audits at the various countries in collaboration with the Islamic associations at the countries of origin and publish list of approved Halal slaughterhouses.
15 - Muslim Agencies (Islamic associations) to be in compliance with the GSO standard No 2055/2010, The previously approved Halal slaughterhouses and Islamic associations at the countries of origin are automatically eligible to certify Halal products for export to all the GCC member countries. List of approved slaughterhouses and Islamic association will be updated as per harmonized requirements.
16 - The meaning of “the animal source is (Halal) is that the animal is permitted by the Islamic religion to be consumed as food according to the relevant GSO technical regulations which have mentioned the types of the animals that are not permitted by Islamic religious to be eaten as food source such e.g. pork Wild animals , toxic plants, genetically modified food products, alcohol... etc, and it is slaughtered as per the Islamic regulations (Halal).
17 - The detention/holding of food consignment does not necessarily result in rejection; yet, as GCC have no prior approval/registration system in place to approve countries and associated manufacturers for certain food items, they have the right in such cases to retain the consignment under the custody of the Department of Customs until fully inspected by the concerned food safety authority officer. Further actions may include, but are not limited to, extended sampling, request for/verification of information by the competent authority at the country of origin/dispatch.
18 - Temporary release refers to having the imported consignment under the custody of the food importer against an undertaken and/or financial guarantee where the consignment contents can be stored at the importer warehouses, yet it will be prohibited from being sold or consumed until complete rectification of the violation (e.g. missing documents, extended sampling). It is obvious that care would be taken by the importer to ensure the integrity and safety of the product during the custody period.
19 - The WTO SPS under article 7-5 allows for temporary precautionary measures. The GCC is aware and keen not to abuse such right. However, the inclusion of the “precautionary” provision is necessary to deal with cases where scientific evidence is lacking, as means of protecting the consumer from any possible health risks.
20 - The key international health-warning source on which GCC depend, are the INFOSAN, OIE, in addition to warnings and alerts from regional networks. Meanwhile, GCC is currently working on developing its regional rapid alert system between the competent authorities of the member countries to ensure rapid and responsive information sharing and management.
21 - GCC (being the importing countries) legal requirements supersede other requirements, while in line with Codex, OIE and IPPC, relevant to food safety and suitability (i.e. Halal).
22 - The “special attention” procedures include, but are not limited to, higher inspection, detention, extended laboratory analysis and information request/verification from the competent authority at the country of origin/dispatch.
23 - Banning food is based on scientific evidence and referenced to international standard setting bodies. The GCC are keen, as all countries, to protect their consumers in case of reported incidents/emergency cases and provide harmonized management response plan and consistent with the international published alerts. In addition, all bans decisions will be notified to WTO/SPS secretaries.