Food Label Inspection in Japan

Label bank_Professional Food Labeling in Japan

Labeling for available carbohydrates and sugars

Available carbohydrates and sugars were added as a part of the widening of target functional ingredients/substances on March 28th. In regards to this, we will review the labeling system for available carbohydrates and sugars in Japan.

Nutritional labeling

The available carbohydrates value to be labeled is calculated using the following formula.
(*When the total mass of the food is set to be 100)

Available carbohydrates = 100*- (protein + fat + dietary fiber + ash content + moisture content)

Sugars are defined in the food labeling standard as follows:

Sugars: must be either monosaccharides or disaccharides, not sugar alcohol

In the nutrition facts labeling, indented sugars are written 1 character down the available carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates g
 Available carbohydrates g
  Sugars g
 Dietary fiber g

Carbohydrates, available carbohydrates, sugars and dietary fiber units are all in “g” and the smallest unit is a “one unit digit.” Regarding carbohydrates, available carbohydrates and sugars, if the value is less than one but more than the amount that allow to be labeled as “0”, one or more significant digits will be required.

Also, when importing/exporting, it is necessary to pay attention to the difference in the definition of “carbohydrates” among countries.

Japan Carbohydrates = 100 - (protein + fat + ash content + moisture content)
* Carbohydrates include dietary fiber
EU Carbohydrates = 100 - (protein + fat + ash content + moisture content + dietary fiber)
* Carbohydrates do not include dietary fiber
America Carbohydrates = 100 - (protein + fat + ash content + moisture content)
* Carbohydrates include dietary fiber


We have summarized the claim system regarding available carbohydrates and sugars. (Dietary fiber are not included)

Labeling system Standard for available carbohydrates and sugars Examples of labeling
Indication that it is “high”, “present/contained” or “fortified” There is no standard value for either available carbohydrates or sugars
Indication that it is “not present/contained”, “low” or “reduced” There is no standard value for available carbohydrates
(However, when the result of the calculation is a negative value, they can be labeled as “0”)
There are standard values for sugars
Example: Indication that it is not included must meet the requirement: “less than 0.5g per 100g”, etc.
Sugar-free, low sugar, 〇〇% less sugar, etc.
(Besides the standard value, there is also a standard regarding the percentage of reduction to use a claim indicating that the content has been reduced.)
Indication that it has not been added There is no labeling standard for available carbohydrates
There is a labeling standard for sugars
Example: No ingredients or additives should be used as sugar substitutes, and the total sugar content in the product shall not exceed the combined content of sugars in its ingredients and additives.
No use of sugars, etc.
Nutrient function labeling for food with nutrient function claims
(Standards and criteria type)
Both available carbohydrates and sugars are excluded
(No standards and criteria are set)
Allowance for labeling as food for specified health use
(Allowing on case-by-case basis type)
There were cases where available carbohydrates and sugars (labeling) were allowed on case-by-case basis
Example: Xylitol, L-arabinose
Sweeteners not responsible for tooth decay, one which inhibits the digestion/absorption of sugar, etc.
Function labeling for food with function claims
(Notification type)
Both available carbohydrates and sugars are target components*
Example: Xylitol, L-arabinose,etc.

(*Available carbohydrates and sugars, excluding the ones considered as major sources of nutrients/energy sources such as glucose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, lactose, maltose, starch and so on.)

There is no case as of April 24, 2018(Since it started on from March 28, 2018)

This is only a brief summary, but our general impression is (again) that the needs of the consumers and the number of food labeling systems are truly numerous. But for now, we will stop here. We will try to write a short column like this again from time to time.

June 2018