By Rupin Chopra and Devika Mehra
Legal metrology deals with legal requirements regarding measurement, units of measurement, measuring devices and methods of measurement to satisfy the needs for protection of health, public safety, the environment, enabling taxation, protection of consumers and fair trade.
However, unlike the definition of Legal Metrology, the laws of Legal Metrology are not merely restricted to the realm of governing of weighment and measurement only, but it also focuses on consumer awareness by mandating printing of certain compliances on the label of a package.
The Commonwealth Countries across the world render a similarity in their laws, as most have these laws have their origin in the United Kingdom. The Legal Metrology Laws of Bhutan, too, are quite similar to the laws prevailing in India and are governed under 3 main Statutes.
Legal Metrology Laws in Bhutan- Laws and Regulations
The Legal Metrology and Packing laws in Bhutan are primarily governed under the following Statutes:
- Bhutan Package Commodities Rules & Regulations 1995 – The primary purpose of these rules and regulations are to regulate sales, storage & distribution of packaged commodities in the Kingdom of Bhutan. This Act’s peculiarity is that it specifically applies to goods produced in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
- The Food Act of Bhutan, 2005 & The Food Rules and Regulations of Bhutan, 2017 – The Act and the Rules of 2017 aim to regulate and facilitate the import, export, and trade of food in the Kingdom of Bhutan to protect human health.
- Bhutan Mandatory Standard for Labelling of Pre–Packaged Food – This Standard was issued pursuant to the Food Rules and Regulations of Bhutan, 2017 and is based on the Codex General Standard for Labelling of Prepackaged Foods [CODEX STAN 1 – 1985 and its amendments].
Legal Metrology Laws in Bhutan- Key Takeaways
- The packaging may or may not contain all information over a label.
- All compliances under the Food Act of Bhutan, 2005 are governed by the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA).
- A pre-packaged food shall be accompanied by the product information printed in Dzongkha or English on a label securely affixed to the package or printed on the package itself.
- Name of the food shall indicate the true nature of the food and normally be specific and not generic
- Where a product is labelled in a language other than that prescribed in this standard, it shall be the responsibility of the importer/distributor of the product to ensure that all labelling information is presented on the label in either in English or Dzongkha.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables shall be exempt from date marking requirements.
- The label of a food which has been treated with ionizing radiation shall carry a written statement indicating that treatment in close proximity to the name of the food. The use of the international food irradiation symbol is optional but when it is used it shall be placed in close proximity to the name of the food.
- Small units (where the surface area is less than 10cm2) may be exempt from requirements relating to ingredient declaration and nutritional information that may be prescribed under this standard
- A pre-packaged food placed in the market that does not comply with the labelling standards or requirements shall be withdrawn from the market. Such pre-packaged food shall be allowed for sale subject to fulfilment of the labelling requirements within a reasonable period of time.
- Contravention of the Bhutan Package Commodities Rules and Regulations, 1995 shall be punishable on offence being established with a fine of Nu. 2000.00 for the first offence, and for the second time with a fine of Nu. 5000.00 and subsequent violation shall be penalized with the cancellation of the trade license.
In light of the aforesaid, it can be established that though the Legal Metrology Laws in Bhutan are not in stark contrast to those prevalent in India, there are certain aspects quite specific to the country of Bhutan.
The practice of ensuring effective use of Legal Metrology laws is a big step towards maintaining healthy consumerism and consumer awareness, whilst keeping a strict check on the quality of the products whilst ensuring transparency from the producers, manufacturers and/or importers.