Why is so much information required to create a food label in Japan?
The information required on a food label is different depending on the definition of each product. There are mainly two standards which are applied to food labeling in Japan: Food Sanitation Law and Quality Labeling Standards. Under the Food Sanitation Law, specific standards are set out for 23 food items, in terms of ingredients, manufacturing and method of preservation. There are also specific requirements that apply to particular food items, under the Quality Labeling Standards.
e.g.) “Frozen food”
The following statements are required on the label:
- Frozen food
- Cooking instructions (e.g. Cook before consumption)
- Whether the product received heat treatment before freezing.
(When the product requires cooking before consumption).
“Food Standards by food group”(Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)
“Cabinet Office Ordinance concerning labeling based on the provisions of Article 1, paragraph 19 of the Food Sanitation Law”
Under the Quality Labeling Standards, aside from general standards for processed foods, there are specific requirements corresponding to each food item (the processed food category includes 46 food items). Manufacturing methods, acid levels (pH) and even the type of raw materials being used are specified in the standards according to the definition of respective food items. The packaging is also subject to the Standards; (you need to ensure that the packaging of food products meets the requirements set out in the standards.)
e.g.) “Chilled gyoza (dumpling)”
Chilled dumplings (including gyoza): It is a prepared food consisting of a filling wrapped in dumpling skin. They are steamed, baked, or deep-fried (flavored with seasonings or spices), and stored at refrigeration temperatures.
Dumplings formed into a semicircular or a circular shape.
The following statements are usually provided on the label:
a) Product name (the name of the food)
c) The ratio of dumpling skin and filling
d) Net weight
e) Date of expiry
f) Storage conditions
g) Cooking instructions
h) (Country of origin)
i) The name and address of manufacturer
*Of which listed above, a), b), d), e), f), h) and i) are mandatory labeling.
*The tariff rate varies depending on product definitions specified by the JAS.
“List of Quality Labeling Standards”(Consumer Affairs Agency)
“Quality Labeling Standards for chilled dumplings”
The standards applied to food additives differ by product definitions.
e.g.) sorbic acid (a preservative)
*The maximum amount of sorbic acid permitted for use:
Fruit wine 0.20g/kg
(The above is just an example.)
Source: “Standards for use of additives and preservatives” http://www.ffcr.or.jp/zaidan/MHWinfo.nsf/....6000785e6?OpenDocument
Nutrients in food are subject to the standards, and there are limits to the amount of nutrients for dietary supplements.
Source: “What is dietary supplement?”(Consumer Affairs Agency) http://www.caa.go.jp/foods/pdf/syokuhin830.pdf
When making claims on nutrition on the packaging, it is required that the food contains a certain level of nutrients.
Source: “What is the system of nutrition labeling?”(Consumer Affairs Agency) http://www.caa.go.jp/foods/pdf/syokuhin829.pdf
As described above,it is essential to ensure that products meet all Food Sanitation Standards and Quality Labeling Standards. Food label requirements are complex and vary from product to product, a lot of information is therefore required to create a food label in Japan.