Food Label Inspection in Japan

Label bank_Professional Food Labeling in Japan

About the start of animal quarantine for dairy products

*On September 1 of this year, a "Cabinet Office Ordinance to amend part of the Food Labeling Standard" was published, and accordingly the content of "Food Labeling Standards Q&A (the 3rd amendment)" and "About Food Labeling Standards (the 8th amendment)" documents was changed. This was caused by the amendment of the new COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) system for ingredients. The Q&A section was updated so significantly that we are planning to explain it another time.

On November 1, animal quarantines for dairy products will start. Since we thought this is also important information in regards with quality checking for people who are in charge of food labeling (in a context of increasing integration of the Japanese market in international trades), we will inform about this topic this month.

Summary of the changes is as follows.

  • In addition to "raw milk" which is already subject to regulations, "dairy products" will also be regulated.
  • Dairy products to be imported and exported will now be both subject to inspection by Animal Quarantine Service (AQS).
  • "An inspection certificate" issued by the competent authority of the exporting country is required for importing these products in Japan.
    (In this case, "listed countries" and "non-listed countries." will be dealt with separately. See below for further information.)

Dairy products that will be subject to the regulations from now on are as follows. (The numbers are HS codes. They are quoted from the website of AQS.)


  • 0401 (Milk, cream, etc.)
    *LL milk (which is recognized as "a product that can be preserved at normal temperature” under Ministerial Ordinance concerning Milk) is excepted.
  • 0402 (Milk, cream, etc.)
    *Unsweetened condensed milk and unsweetened defatted condensed milk are excepted.
  • 0403 (Buttermilk etc.)
    *Fermented milk (yogurt etc.) and lactic acid bacteria beverage are excepted.
  • 0404 (Whey etc.)
  • 0405 (Butter etc.)
    *Butter oil and ghee are excepted.
  • 0406 (Cheese etc.)
    *Processed cheese is excepted.
  • 3502.20, 3502.90 (Products made from raw milk or dairy products such as milk albumin or concentrated whey)
    *α-lactalbumin which was fraction-purified is excepted.
  • 2309.10, 2309.90 (Feed and pet food made from raw milk or dairy products)
    * "Dry pet food" and "products which are given to animals that do not belong to the artiodactyla order (cloven-hoofed mammals) and among the ones sold at retailers (note1) , the ones in which raw milk or dairy products make up less than 50 % of ingredients (note 2) and that can be preserved at normal temperature" are excepted.
    Note 1) These include the products which are not processed after being imported but just subdivided (such as in pouches, etc.).
    Note 2) Added water should not be considered as an ingredient in the calculation.

*Among the above, canned, bottled and retort products which are sterilized by heat after being filled in a container are excepted.


The context behind this is the will to make absolutely sure to prevent domestic animal infectious diseases from entering Japan and to promote exports of Japanese livestock products. While discussing about quarantine needed for export to Europe and America, it has been noted that a quarantine system of international standards or standards equal to the ones of various foreign countries must be established, which lead to the current revision.

The actual procedure for inspection is as follows.

For import

*Dairy products need to be imported at ports or airports designated by the Ordinance (Act on domestic animal infectious diseases) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

Application for import inspection to AQS (An inspection certificate issued by the competent authority of the exporting country is required)

Import inspection at arrival time (at AQS or location designated by AQS)

▼ If Passed

Issuing of an import quarantine certificate

Customs clearance

For export

*Before you begin the procedures, you need to check import requirements of the country of destination.

Application for export inspection to AQS (Necessary documents are dependent on the import requirements of target country)

Export inspection (at AQS or location designated by AQS)

▼ If Passed

Issuing an export quarantine certificate

Customs clearance

Reference: AQS "Dairy products leaflet (June 14, 2017 version)"

You need to pay attention that for import, animal hygiene conditions for "listed countries (which are permitted to export raw milk and unheated dairy products to Japan)" are different from the ones for "non-listed countries (which are not permitted to export raw milk and unheated dairy products to Japan)." When you import dairy products from non-listed countries, they must pass through a process to inactivate foot-and-mouth disease virus. The listed countries and non-listed countries are posted on the website of AQS.

We recommend to check these changes once, not only for people considering to export or import dairy products but also for people whose work is related to food quality.

References:
AQS "About the start of animal quarantine for dairy products"
http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/topix/dairy_products.html

October 2017