The new GOST P 51074-2003 has certainly been developed with the requirements of international standards in mind. Indeed, Russia hopes that the standard will remove a number of technical barriers within international trade, and provide for an objective evaluation of product quality and safety.
"Changing economic conditions and the necessity to integrate into the European and international market (the expected joining the WTO) have demonstrated some weaknesses of the existing standards and the necessity to reform the old system," said Maria Koval, general director of CVS Consulting which organised November's GOST conference.
"The Russian GOSTs must be changed to correspond to the ISO standards, the Alimentarius Codex, and the EU regulations on safety of food products. It is also necessary to introduce the indicators that will guarantee the revealing of faked products in special laboratories and that will help to develop the testing methods enabling authorities to identify the faked and bad for health food products."
In order to achieve this, the new GOST sets stricter rules for the type of information that must be available on food packaging. Manufacturers must state what raw materials or biologically active flavours are contained in their products, and provide information about all the minerals and vitamins contained in the product.
In addition, packaging must contain approved recommended daily amounts, the number of calories and provide information about the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate contained in the product. Information on whether a product is "grown with only organic fertilisers," "grown without pesticides" or "without preservatives" must also be provided.
Information about genetically modified food products or products prepared with GM raw material or components must also be provided and information about diet or disease-preventing properties of certain food products can be printed, so long as the manufacturer can prove its claims. Manufacturers must also put the name and address of an organisation authorised by the producer to receive complaints from consumers. The address must be on the territory of the Russian Federation.
Besides all this, the GOST R 51074-1997 sets concrete requirements for classifying certain food products, prohibits the use of ambiguous phrases such as "environmentally clean" and allows producers not to list components of which there is less than 2 per cent in the product, in accordance with the EU Regulation 2003/89/EU.
According to the Federal Agency on Technical Regulations and Metrology, the introduction of the new GOST well benefit both consumers and manufacturers. The standard provides a clear set of directions that must be followed if manufacturers do not want to violate laws and regulations currently in effect. And consumers, for their part, will receive full information about products to help them make the right choice when they buy food.