17 Sep 2020

The Ministry of Commerce and the Saudi Authority for Food and Drug would like to clarify that, according to the previous statement published on Muharram 24, 1442 AH, corresponding to September 12, 2020 AD, regarding the advertisement circulated on the Social Media about coffee products and their quality, the people who appeared in this video were summoned and their statements heard to verify the allegations contained therein, and the following has been found:

The published text was a paid advertisement, and this advertisement is considered contrary to Article 11 of the Food & Drug System, which stipulates that (it is not permissible to advertise anything about Food & Drug except with the approval of the concerned Authority, and in accordance with the conditions and requirements specified by the regulations). It was found that neither  the advertiser nor the advertising establishment had obtained a license for making an advertisement from the Food & Drug Authority, as well as they had not obtained a license to practice such activity from the Food and Drug Authority. The content of the advertisement includes misuse and false descriptions, directly and indirectly, against competing products.

The content of the advertisement included the claim that most of the coffee products on the market are without a nutritional label and described that as a kind of failure, but this information is misleading, since the Saudi Technical Regulation No. (SFDA 2233) excluded food products that consist of a single food item such as tea or coffee from mentioning nutritional data, while importers and manufacturers of green coffee products are required to put the following data: Name and grade of the product, country of origin, name of the item, production and expiration date. This is in accordance with what is stipulated in the Saudi Gulf Technical Regulations SFDA.FD / GSO 442, relevant to Green Coffee beans, as well as the Saudi Gulf Technical Regulation No. SFDA.FD / GSO 9, about the packed foodstuff labels.

The content of the advertisement included the claim that all competing establishments are importing coffee of the fourth grade, then it is refilled after entering the Kingdom and the data is changed into first grade, and that all coffee available in the Saudi market without exception is not of the first grade, and they focused on this information many times within the ad. Therefore, SFDA would like to clarify that the classification of coffee beans varies from one country to another, and according to the Saudi Gulf Technical Regulations SFDA.FD / GSO 442, relevant to “Green Coffee Beans”, the classification of coffee beans, adopted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf countries, is divided into three grades only, as follows: (Excellent Grade, First Grade, Second Grade), and the difference between these grades is the percentage of defects allowed in each specific amount of coffee weight, such as the fractions in the coffee bean and so on.

The content of the advertisement included the claim that the majority of coffee products are not properly filled, packaged or wrapped, but this information is false and misleading to the consumer. In this context, the Food and Drug Authority clarified that the filling and packaging of coffee products is subject to the Saudi Gulf Technical Regulation No. (SFDA.FD GSO 442), which stipulates that green coffee beans to be packed in bags of jute, linen, or any other suitable packaging; and this product does not need to be packed in airless package.

The content of the advertisement included conducting an incorrect experiment, which is placing the coffee beans in a water container to compare the quality of a competing product with the product of the advertiser. This method is not based on scientific methods and it is not accredited, and it cannot be relied upon to find out the safety or quality of coffee beans.

Based on the above; the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, according to its competence, will impose the legal penalties on the advertiser, and this is based on the schedule of classification of violations and penalties, according to the Food & Drug System and its Implementing Regulations. The advertiser violations shall be referred to the Public Authority for Audiovisual Information for considering such violation, according to its jurisdiction, and to take the legal measures against the violator, also the Ministry of Commerce will refer the owner of the facility and the advertiser to the Committee specialized in considering the violations of E-Commerce System.

In this context, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority affirms that all food products are subject to the Food System, which aims to ensure food safety, and to protect the consumer against any harmful, adulterated, misleading, or unfit food. Notably, all food establishments are obligated to register their products with the F&D Authority, also the imported food is not released except after the approval of the F&D Authority in accordance with the conditions, requirements and regulations governing the procedures for permitting the release of imported food to the Kingdom. In addition, all food products are subject to periodic inspection by the Authority's inspectors, and they take samples to verify their compliance with the standards of the Food System, the samples could be analyzed as well, if necessary, in its laboratories or in the laboratories registered with the F&D Authority.

The Ministry of Commerce would like to affirm that all electronic advertisements on social media and others are subject to Article eleven of the E-Commerce Law, which stipulates that it is prohibited to include the electronic advertisement any presentation, statement or false allegation, expressed in terms that would lead directly or indirectly to deceiving or misleading the consumer.

It is noteworthy that the sanctions of the F&D System include a fine of up to one million riyals, also preventing the violator from practicing any food business for a period of up to 6 months, as well as canceling or suspending the license for a period of up to one year, besides the E-Commerce Law includes penalties and a fine of up to one million riyals, and the prevention of practicing E-Commerce Activity.

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Last Modified 20 Sep 2020