The step is a part of Sheikh Mohammed’s new directives to promote healthy eating…

For those of us who aren’t nutritional experts, food labels on grocery store items may cause confusion or bewilderment. However, the decision to pick healthy meals at the supermarket will soon be easier thanks to a decision taken by the UAE Cabinet.

Under the directive of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, all prepackaged food items will soon have to display colour-coded labels as part of a new nutrition labelling policy. The colour-coded labels will help people make healthier food choices.

If you’re from Europe, these labels aren’t a new idea, as all prepackaged food items on shelves already display this information. The very same idea will be implemented here in the UAE, and will be optional in the initial phase, but mandatory by 2022.

Also read: UAE committee formed to action Sheikh Mohammed’s new directives

Here’s how it will work

Apart from displaying the usual calorie count, all prepackaged food items on supermarket shelves will also have to display three color codes, similar to the photo below:

The colors can be either green, amber or red.

Green code: Low risk, healthier choice.
Amber code: Medium risk, consume moderately.
Red code: High risk, don’t consume frequently.

These colors will help people identify which food product is high or low in fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt content. They will also carry the calorie count of each food product, thus helping people to make informed (and healthier) decisions.

According to  Gulf News, in a statement made by the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future “The Nutrition Labelling Policy aims to raise community awareness and nudge people into adopting a healthy lifestyle, which will eventually promote health and overall wellbeing in the UAE.”

Items that have to include these codes are canned solid and liquid foods and fresh foods will be excluded, so that includes all fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.

The codes will be implemented by Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology.

This isn’t the first time this year the UAE has taken a step to help people make healthier food choices.

In May 2019, Dubai Municipality sent out an announcement that all restaurants in the emirate will have to display calorie content for all of its meals to customers. They had until January 2020 to implement the idea, but the decision to display calories was pushed to 2022, giving establishments two more years to implement the change to “allow enough time for the industry to prepare itself.”

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Image: Getty