Food Label Inspection in Japan

Label bank_Professional Food Labeling in Japan

Food label news: Highlights of 2016 and upcoming schedules

Happy New Year!
This year marks 9 years since the first Label bank newsletter was issued, and as always we thank you for your continued readership.

The year 2016 saw a variety of events relating to food labels, and we would like to once again summarize them in this newsletter. We hope this helps you review some key points, assuming that you, especially those involved in food labeling, are probably busy dealing with the new Food Labeling Standard.

Highlights of 2016


2016March 4th Partial amendment to ‘concerning Food Labeling Standards’ (related to the notification for manufacturer’s ID code)
Partial amendment to ‘guidelines to apply for Foods with Function Claims (FFC), etc.’
April Partial amendment to ‘matters to be noted when preparing notification for FFC’
Partial amendment to ‘checklist for preparing notification for FFC’
Start of operation for ‘notification database for FFC system’
Start of operation for ‘notification database for manufacturer's ID code system’
Enforcement of ‘Act on partial revision of the Act Against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations’ (related to administrative monetary penalty systems)
Partial amendment to ‘FAQs on alcoholic beverages labeling under the Food Labeling Act’ (related to manufacturer’s ID codes)
July Start of operation for ‘concerning matters to be noted relating to health foods under the Act Against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations and the Health Promotion Act’
August 5th Partial amendment to ‘concerning Food Labeling Standard’ (related to the manufacturer’s ID code for processed food and food additive products intended for professional use)
September End of the transition period for Food Labeling Standards (fresh foods)
October Publication of ‘concerning FAQs on Food for Specified Health Uses (FOSHU)’
November 6th Partial amendment to ‘concerning Food Labeling Standard’ (related to detection methods for safety-approved genetically modified foods)
Publication of the review committee’s report on Food for Special Dietary Uses (FOSDU)
Publication of the review committee’s interim report on the country of origin labeling system for ingredients in processed food products
Amendment to ‘concerning requirements for FOSHU approval,etc.’
December Publication of the advisory committee’s report on how to provide information when selling foods on the internet
Briefing session related to the review committee’s interim report on the country of origin labeling system for ingredients in processed food products
Publication of the review committee’s report including the usage of functional components under FFC system

The Notification on Partial Revision of Specification and Standards for Food, Food Additives etc. (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) has also been published, in which the amendment to the usage of chlorous acid water is included - The revision was notified three times last year, in April, June and September, including the amendment to the standard setting for pesticide residues. The Concerning Food Labeling Standard (enforcement notice) was revised three times during the last year alone, so you should make sure to have the latest version in hand. Meanwhile, no amendment has been made as to the FAQs on Food Labeling Standard since the 2nd amendment of December 2015.

Upcoming schedules


Here are the upcoming schedules relating to food labeling:

2017January Briefing session related to the review committee’s interim report on the country of origin labeling system for ingredients in processed food products
(continued from December, 2016)
2018April Review of FFC system
(to be reviewed after two years from the effective date of the new system)
2020 March End of the transition period for Food Labeling Standards (processed foods and food additives)
End of the period of use of Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese (2015 version)
TBD   Amendment to Food Labeling Standards, FAQs, etc. , following the partial amendment to the country of origin labeling system for ingredients in processed food products
(including the publication of information about the transition period)

We believe that the announcement found in the interim report on the country of origin labeling system for ingredients in processed food products (drafted by the review committee last year) and which requires country of origin labeling (COOL) for all food products manufactured and processed in Japan, was probably the highlight of 2016. Following this announcement, a variety of different opinions have been put forward, and we should continue to pay close attention to the progresses on this subject, including some possible changes to the FAQs of the new system according to the public comments to be submitted.

Incidentally, some changes in food labeling systems have also been taking place overseas. In the EU, the transition period for the amendment on nutrition labeling came to an end in last December. In China, the Proposed Amendment of Food Safety Law was published in last October. In the U.S, the Nutrition Facts label must include added sugar information by July 2018. If the public interests of each respective countries are reflected accordingly in such changes, we can say that in Japan there is an increasing interest in the origin of ingredients within a food, and it may be important to think about the reason behind this increased interest.

In order to manufacture better products and to make them available to more consumers, it is essential that accurate information on the product quality be provided - one of the purpose of food labeling. We keep ourselves informed of changes in the food labeling system, anticipate the current needs of the society, and keep you updated with our monthly newsletter, events that are of interest. We thank you for your continued support.

January 2017