Food Label Inspection in Japan

Label bank_Professional Food Labeling in Japan

JAS for "Mastication-Friendly Food" Established

The Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) for "Mastication-Friendly Food" was established on August 17, 2016. The standard is to permit the use of a JAS mark on the package of the "new type of nursing-care food (Smile Care Food)", which the working group comprised of representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has discussed for some time.

Four categories and definition of Mastication-Friendly Food


Definition:

A processed food that requires less chewing compared to regular foods and that displays modified characteristics/consistency/other content in that purpose (excluding baby food).

Definitions of each of the four Mastication-Friendly Food categories are as below:

EASY-TO-CHEW FOODS

A mastication-friendly food that is easy to bite, chew or mash.
(It must have moderately chewy texture)

CRUSHABLE-WITH-GUMS FOODS

A mastication-friendly food that is between the firmness of easy-to-chew and crushable-with-tongue foods.

CRUSHABLE-WITH-TONGUE FOOD

A mastication-friendly food that can be readily mashed between the tongue and palate.

NO-CHEW FOODS

A mastication-friendly food that is easy to swallow without chewing.

The foods in all categories, other than 'no-chew' foods, are required to have "similar appearance and flavor than regular foods/beverages". It is also required that "significant oozing" does not occur in both 'crushable-with-tongue' and 'no-chew' foods and that the foods in all categories have "moderate adhesiveness and cohesiveness".

Labeling requirements


Mastication-Friendly Food must carry the following information in a conspicuous place on the container or package:

  • A statement indicating that the product is 'easy to chew', 'crushable with gums', 'crushable with tongue' or 'no chew'.
  • Cooking instructions (in addition to cooking instructions already required by the Food Labeling Standard)
  • Net weight or drained weight, and gross weight

Although there is no type size requirement, it is recommended that the mandatory information be legible in consideration of the unique characteristics of the food.
Now let us summarize the "new type of nursing-care food (Smile Care Food)", which contributed to the establishment of the JAS for Mastication-Friendly Food.

What is "Smile Care Food"?


Background information

  • The population of Japan aged 65 and over increased by nearly 30 % from 23.63 million in 2002 to 30.74 million in 2012, and one in four is elderly nowadays.
  • Elderly people often suffer from malnutrition, which causes weight loss, appetite loss, tiredness and difficulty in walking, because they do not eat properly and become deficient in nutrients, such as energy and protein.
  • "Smile Care Food" (a new type of nursing-care food) -which is visually appealing and tasty- proves to be helpful to prevent such malnutrition.

Target Consumers

As a general rule, homebound seniors and people with disabilities who:

  • Suffer from malnutrition due to having difficulties with chewing and/or swallowing.
  • Have good nutrition, despite having difficulties with chewing and/or swallowing, thanks to special and modified diets they or their caregivers prepare.
  • Have no difficulties with chewing and/or swallowing but suffer from malnutrition.

+People who may potentially be included in one of those mentioned above in the future.

Type of diets

  • Processed foods (single-item) (e.g., retort pouch foods)
  • Dishes made from an assortment of different foods
  • Assortment of different dishes (single-serving meal) (e.g., food delivery service, home food delivery)

Foods not included in "Smile Care Food"

  • Therapeutic food
  • Hospital food
  • Food in a capsule or tablet

(Source: "Smile Care Food", Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery)

"Smile Care Foods" are required to provide 'delicious taste' and 'enjoyment of eating', and Japan is going to promote their diffusion. A category called "blue mark" -- which indicates "consult with your doctor or other healthcare professional before using" -- was added this February to classify "Smile Care Food". Some products have already been permitted to bear the blue mark and are currently sold on the market. We might say that the JAS for "Mastication-Friendly Food" was established as a standard for food categories ("red mark" and "yellow mark") that consumers can purchase without a doctor's or other healthcare professional's guidance. If you have food lineups for seniors or have interest in such foods, make sure to check out further details about that topic.

References:
JAS for "Mastication-Friendly Food"
http://www.maff.go.jp/j/jas/jas_kikaku/attach/pdf/kikaku_itiran-7.pdf
"Smile Care Food", Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery
http://www.maff.go.jp/j/shokusan/seizo/kaigo.html

October 2016


 

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