Declaration of manufacturer contact information
This is a follow-up on "Manufacturer Identification Codes" from our last newsletter.
The writer of this newsletter occasionally gives a lecture on food labeling, and manufacturer's ID codes under the new Standard is one of the topics that interests the audience. Topics such as on food additives and allergens will be discussed in a future newsletter.
Under the new Standard, ID codes are only permitted when a product is manufactured at two or more facilities. Yet even in that case, the firm responsible for the product must respond to inquiries from customers on the name and address of the manufacturer. Let me give you more information on this subject.
Comparison between old vs. new Standard
Even under the old Standard, firms who use ID codes were required to respond when customers ask for information on manufactures (the name and address), but appropriate contact information that customers can use was not readily available on product packaging, and firms were therefore not fully ready for such inquiries from customers.
Under the new Standard, contact details must be declared on product packaging. This is one of clear and immediate benefits to consumers. Here are some rules relating to the contact details under the new Standard:
- The label statements must include one of the following details:
- The name and address of the manufacturer, or contact details of the domestic firm that can respond to consumer’s inquiries about the name and address of the manufacturer.
- The website address (including 2D data matrix codes and other alternatives) that provides the name and address of the manufacturer represented by the ID code.
- The address of all manufacturing facilities of the product, the name of the manufacture, or the name and ID code of the manufacture.
Source: Food Labeling Standard (page 20)
Manufacturer Identification Codes from the perspective of consumers
Through the telephone number or other information provided in close proximity to the ID code (e.g. +ABC) on food packaging, consumers can easily find the name and address of the manufacturer.
Obligation to respond to inquiries
Firms who are eligible to use ID codes will need to respond to the change in the Standard: "The firm responsible for the product must respond to inquiries from customers on the name and address of the manufacturer."
The firms who used to provide relevant contact information to consumers, not through their own customer service centers but external service providers, might want to update their FAQs.
How to label your food products
Please refer to a sample label in "Q&A for Food Labeling Standards" below:
Manufacturer: (name, ID code)
Customer service center (○○)○○○○
Website address http://www.・・・・・
Source: Q&A for Food Labeling Standards (ID cord-17)
Specific examples on 2D data matrix codes (including QR codes) as well as on how to list the name and address of manufacturers by ID codes on the packaging are given in the "Q&A for Food Labeling Standards" (available in Japanese only, sorry…)
Some firms might be concerned about the fact that consumers can easily obtain manufacturer's name and address on or through product labels, but which will give them an opportunity to understand what makes consumers anxious and seek out such information.