One area of regulatory lingo that sometimes causes confusion or misunderstanding concerns exactly what amendments, dispensations and concessions are. What makes this especially confusing is that no one government department involved in food legislation issues all of these types of notices. Knowing exactly when and how each is applied by the various departments will assist you in correctly interpreting and applying the law.
For the purposes of this article, we discuss the approaches of the various regulatory authorities responsible for food legislation, looking specifically at the Department of Health (DoH); the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALLRD); and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
When there is a change to an act or a regulation, an amendment is published by the government department responsible for that piece of legislation. Amendments are published in the Government Gazette, with their regulation numbers; therefore, they must be read in conjunction with the original regulations.
An example of this is the Regulations Relating to Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs (R.146 of 2010), which was followed by the publication of two amendments: R.1091, on 19 November 2010, and R.45, on 19 January 2012. If you apply this regulation without considering its amendments, the information on your product label may be incorrect. All three departments mentioned above make use of amendments, though DALRRD does so to a lesser extent than the other two.
DALRRD is the only department that issues dispensations. A dispensation is issued in two cases: either as an industry-wide dispensation, to address a gap in a regulation (similarly to the use of an amendment); or directly to a company, giving permission to deviate from a regulation for a limited period of time. Although dispensations are not published in the Government Gazette, they are still legally binding.
Concessions are issued by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), under the DTI; a concession is a correction to an aspect of a standard or compulsory specification.
It is important to note the uses for all of these documents, so that when legislation is applied to your business, all applicable documents are considered. This ensures that nothing is missed.
For training, help when applying for a dispensation, or regulatory assistance in piecing together all the components of the regulations, contact us today.