SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Agricultural Product Standards Amendment Bill, which is expected to become law after being adopted by the national legislature in February 2023, is subject to public consultation through the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

The bill, which was introduced in parliament in August 2021, aims to enhance food safety by tightening regulations on the sales and exports of some agricultural products.

It seeks to alter the Agricultural Product Standards Act of 1990 by adding definitions, allowing for the auditing of a product’s management control systems, and establishing provisions for assignees to set tariffs based on cost recovery.

The bill was amended by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development before being accepted. One of the revisions added a new clause about the Minister’s selection of assignees.

The law also gives the Minister the authority to issue regulations governing audit and management control systems and related topics.

It is anticipated that the proposed changes to South Africa’s Agricultural Product Standards Act, 1990, will enhance quality assurance and advance food safety.

The purpose of the bill is to tighten the regulatory framework for agricultural production and to ensure that all agricultural goods marketed and exported from South Africa adhere to particular quality and safety standards.

One of the main effects of the legislation is that exporters, farmers, and merchants will gain from assurances that might be accompanied by claims like “organic” and “free range,” among others, that may be validated.

“Consumers will also benefit from being protected against misleading claims and thereby getting value for their money.

“South Africa may have a strengthened food control system as a consequence of the anticipated proposed changes which will serve as a good base for facilitation of trade and market access,” the department said, adding that the quality of products offered for sale will also be enhanced.

The Bill’s summary, published in Government Gazette 44603 in May 2021, highlights the need for tighter control systems in areas of labeling claims in products for sale. This will ensure that the public has access to accurate and reliable information regarding the products that they consume.

The bill is a positive step toward promoting food safety and quality management in South Africa, says legal research company Sabinet.

“The bill’s provisions for tighter control systems and stricter regulations for agricultural production, health, and food safety are expected to have far-reaching benefits for both the country’s agricultural sector and consumers,” it said.

Stakeholders will have the chance to comment on the Bill and influence how the nation’s agriculture sector develops from now till May 9, 2023.

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