Food Label Inspection in Japan

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How to use the "Notification Database for the System of Manufacturer's ID Code"

The "Notification Database for the System of Manufacturer's ID Code" has been released since April, 2016. In this column we will review how to use this database to search for a manufacturing plant, and also explain the process of notifying a Manufacturer's ID Code.

How to use the search tool


Let's first give it a try and see how it works in practice.
Go to the Consumer Affairs Agency website (http://www.caa.go.jp/) and look for the "注目コンテンツ"(Spotlights) section (*)located at the bottom of the page.
Then, click on the "製造所固有記号の届出情報を確認 される方へ"(For people looking to check information related to the Manufacturer's ID code Notification) link under the "消費者の方" (For consumers) services sub-section . (*as of May 30th, 2016)
A page called "製造所固有記号制度届出データベース" (Notification Database for the System of Manufacturer's ID Code.) now appears on your screen:
you will need to find the "製造所固有記号の検索" (Search a Manufacturer's ID code) link listed under the "製造所固有記号の届出情報を確認される方へ" section at the top of the page and click on it.
Once on the search page, start by typing the Manufacturer's ID Code in the corresponding "製造所固有記号" (Manufacturer's ID code) field then click on the"検索" (Search) button.

As a test we tried to enter the Manufacturer's ID Code of a beverage we had here, but since the system is still fairly new, and as one would expect, it looks like there is no more than a few codes registered at the present time.
We however noticed the system user-friendliness: it offers for instance an auto-completion that allows you to scroll through a list of suggestions after having typed the first character of a code.

What we can learn


Apart from the name and address of the distributor displayed on the product, you can learn the corresponding information for the manufacturer.
The manufacturer name includes details up to the company (or individual) name, while the address details are provided up to the block number.
These 2 points are the only information displayed: after using it, one has to admit the simplicity of this system.

We nevertheless think that it brings a considerable change in the way of checking these details: while in the past you had to call or search through the homepages of each company for instance, from now on you can conveniently look for them on a centralized web system.

【Manufacturer's ID Code – Example of a search result (Sample)】

CORPORATE NUMBER MANUFACTURER OR DISTRIBUTOR ADDRESS MANUFACTURER'S ID CODE MANUFACTURER'S NAME MANUFACTURER'S ADDRESS
********* 株式会社ラベル食品 大阪市淀川区西中島○丁目○番○号 ABC 株式会社○○食品工業 兵庫県○○市○○町○番○号

An ID is required for the notification procedure


Now that we have reviewed the practical aspects brought by this system from a consumer point of view, we need to point out the slightly tiresome procedure required for the businesses.
Although the change of the notification process to an online form is easy to grasp, it is however worth noting that a registration is now also needed for performing the notification.

In order to get the User ID required to start the procedure, "Food-related businesses" will have to notify their basic information as such. The term "Food-related businesses" refers to the person responsible for the labeling. In other words, it refers to the company displayed on the label (in the product information frame) as responsible for the labeling content.

Regarding the basic information to be notified, it is mandatory to provide and send the corporate number and a password, in addition to other details like the name of the company or the mail address of the person in charge. Should there be an error at this stage, a message will be mailed to the notifier to inform that the request has been turndown and that he/she will be brought back to the beginning. If everything is clear, the User ID is sent and can be used (with the password) by the notifier to login and perform the notification of the Manufacturer's ID code (including the code itself and related manufacturer's name and location, etc.).

After logging in, a special file for bulk import of large amount of notification data and an excel file for the manufacturing plan (used to enter the name and address of the manufacturers in the case there would be two or more manufacturing plants involved) can both be used. These files can now be downloaded from the same "製造所固有記号制度届出データベース" page.

Consumers want to know about the production place


With the implementation of such public information system and at the occasion of this centralization of details related to the origin of a product, the consumers demand for transparency regarding the name and location of the manufacturing plant has eventually been listened to.
But even if consumers now have access to the name and location of the manufacturing plant, the labeling still does not guarantee the safety of the product. In this respect, it can be considered to be close to the labeling system in terms of origin of the ingredients.

And yet it cannot be denied that labeling details regarding the production place of a food product are also necessary for safety and security matters. Thanks to this "Notification Database for the System of Manufacturer's ID Code", the name and location of a manufacturer are now available to the public: For people, like myself, involved in the food industry, it is without a doubt a new opportunity to reflect on the importance of health related matters.

References:
"Notification Database for the System of Manufacturer’s ID Code"
http://www.caa.go.jp/policies/policy/food_labeling/unique_code/

July 2016


 

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