Meeting South African Labelling Requirements

A number of importers have found a great cosmetic or food product in an overseas country and decided to bring it into South Africa. While it is certainly possible to do so, a number of these goods get blocked by customs every year due to the product not meeting South African labelling requirements. South Africa’s labelling requirements are detailed in the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (Act 54 of 1972) and the various amendments to the Act. The Act is freely available on the internet for you to ensure that you comply. We have highlighted some of the most prominent and important labelling requirements from the Act for you.

The label needs to give the following information:

  • Brand name
  • Product name
  • Manufacturer or packer or distributor name and street address
  • State Product of ‘Country of origin’ if all ingredients are from that country or Produced in ‘Country of origin’ if ingredients are from different country than the country where the products were manufactured.
  • Manufacture and expiry date
  • Batch number
  • Product size or weight
  • List of ingredients with the word ‘Ingredients:’ at the start of the list.
  • The names of any preservatives or colourants used. Both the name and the number can be used, but the number is not compulsory.

Other requirements:

  • If a nutritional claim is made such as ‘enriched with vitamins’ then the label must contain a nutritional table. The table must give the quantity of nutrients per serving or per the size of the container. All quantities must be given in Standard International (SI) units.
  • Label must be in English.
  • Any product with healing or medical claims needs to be registered at the Medical control council (MCC).
  • Any product with slimming or muscle enhancement claims needs to be registered at the MCC.
  • Labels may not make claims that could be misleading to the consumer.
  • Products may not contain any banned ingredients such as hydroquinone (used for skin lightening).

The most recent amendment (2017) to the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (Act 54 of 1972) is currently awaiting promulgation. It closed for comment in March 2018. The amendment, titled Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act: Regulations: Labelling, advertising and composition of cosmetics addresses labelling requirements for cosmetics. Until the amendment enters into force, the South African cosmetics industry is still self-regulated by an independent body known as the Cosmetics Toiletry & Fragrance Association of South Africa (CTFA).

Additional proposed labelling and product claim requirements for cosmetics are detailed in sections 8 and 9 of the above mentioned amendment.

Find more original resources, and assistance with customs licenses & foreign exchange on TradeLogistics.

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