On October 26, 2023, the Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) announced that they would hold discussions about the basic direction of the Japanese version of the “Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labeling (FOPNL)”. This time, I would like to summarize the FOPNL system, which is currently under consideration, based on the documents published at the 1st Discussion Meeting on Easy-to-Understand labeling of nutrition facts (hereinafter referred to as the “the Discussion Meeting”) held on November 2.
Some countries have introduced FOPNL in order to promote consumers’ understanding of the nutritional value of foods and food choices based on the health and nutrition policies of each country in addition to their mandatory labeling system. In November 2021, the Codex committee adopted the guidelines for FOPNL. In response to these situations, from the perspective of international consistency, the Japanese version of FOPNL has started to be discussed based on the contents of the guidelines published by international organizations. The main point of the discussion is to improve the visibility and understandability of the labels.
What is FOPNL?
The material attached to the report of the Discussion Meeting: About the situations on FOPNL includes some labeling examples of other countries. The following are images of labels in Australia, France and the U.K.(voluntary).
In Canada, FOPNL became mandatory for prepackaged foods that meet or exceed set levels for sodium, sugars or saturated fat in July 2022, causing controversy.
(See our past article: Canadian mandatory front-of-pack labeling: the important points)
The guidelines of WHO and Codex
The above-mentioned material summarizes the main points of the guidelines. For examples,
–A single system should be developed to improve the impact of the FOPL system (WHO)
–Only one FOPNL System should be recommended by the government in each country (Codex)
–A monitoring and review process should be developed as part of the overall FOPL system (WHO)
The details of the Codex guidelines can be summarized in the Guidelines on Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labeling (CAA).
The main issues to be discussed are as follows, (The material attached to the report of the Discussion Meeting): Direction / Main Points of Discussion for Promotion of the Easy-to-Understand Nutrition Facts labeling (Draft) )(CAA)
- Nutritional issues to be addressed through FOPNL, in line with the Japan’s health and nutrition policy
- Effective measures to make it easier for consumers to utilize Nutrition Facts labels in their daily diet
- This initiative is intended to be beneficial to consumers, while ensuring the viability for food-related businesses from the perspective of promoting the “healthy and sustainable food environments”.
A basic direction will be presented by the end of the current fiscal year at the Discussion Meeting. Since this revision is related to all food products, I advise our readers to keep an eye on this topic through our newsletter.
Research Services on Ingredients & Food Labeling -For the Japanese Market-
We verify the conformity of ingredients and additives with the standards for use in Japan based on specifications such as formulation lists. We also verify the conformity of the proposed labeling of ingredient names, nutrients, etc. with the labeling standards based on specifications such as formulation lists.
Label bank Co., Ltd. CEO (Founder)
Born in Japan. Working on solving various issues related to food labeling operations. Also regularly gives lectures for various organizations in Japan.
Co-author of ‘Latest edition: Guide book Food Labeling Law and related business practical points – from scratch (Japanese version only)’ (DAI-ICHI HOKI CO., LTD/2019).