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Label bank

New labeling regulations in Japan (2) / New Functional Labeling System on health foods (1)

New labeling regulations in Japan (2)​​

In June 2013, “Food Labeling Law” was promulgated. Since November 2013, the contents of the food labeling standards have been discussed. Here is the report on further discussions on “Food Labeling Law” after the mid-term report to which we referred in our last newsletter.

Type size and layout requirements:
The current regulations require the standard type size of no smaller than 8-point, while the type size can be 5.5-point when the label panel is smaller than 150cm2. Certain required information can be exempt from declaration, when the label panel is 30cm2 or less. The layout of labels that provide all mandatory information on food products must be easy to see and follow at the point of purchase, according to specific label formats.

It had been discussed whether or not to change the rules on layout and type size, from the viewpoint of “easy to see and follow” labeling, taking into account the elderly people, but was decided to refrain from changing the rules. This is because it is found to be difficult to use a larger font, in light of the limited space available in food labels, namely due to mandatory nutrition labeling requirements to be introduced soon. Thus, the standard type size, no smaller than 8-point, will be unchanged.

As for the package that has a label panel of 30cm2 or less, there was a proposition to the type size of (from 5.5-point to 6.5-point), but again it was rejected due to the introduction of mandatory nutrition labeling requirements. Meanwhile, although some information can still be exempt from declaration for  the label panel of 30cm2 or less, there could be some information required to be declared on the label.

Not much change in rules for layout, but there is a suggestion that food ingredients other than food additives and food additives be separated by using delimiter such as “/”, “:”, and etc., in order to distinguish between the two types of ingredients.

The discussions are planned to be concluded as a provisional policy in July, 2014.

New Functional Labeling System on health foods (1)​​

Survey results of consumer sentiment towards new functional labeling system.

On 4 April 2014, the “New Functional Labeling Review Committee” of the Consumer Affairs Agency released its survey results of consumer sentiment towards new functional labeling system (the survey was conducted in March 2014). And we would like to share some of them with you, since that shows exactly what information the consumer is looking for-which is important to keep in mind. Let us start with a bit of background.

The following was decided by the Cabinet on June 14, 2014:
Concerning so called 'health foods,' the government will commence studies within this fiscal year on new measures to describe functionalities based on scientific grounds under corporate responsibility and implement the measures after obtaining results within the next fiscal year:

Two types of survey were conducted in a bid to develop basic data for reviewing functional labeling system which facilitate consumers to make a voluntary and national decision on health foods, without being misled:

1. Study on issues in the dietary supplement system in the U.S.
2. Survey on consumers’ understanding towards functional labeling.

The report says as follows:
"60% or more of interviewees answered that ”human research ("clinical trials" or "observational study") is necessary at the very least for the function claim on food labels.

In response to the servey, the survey conducted in March 2014 belongs to “2”, consisting of a group interview and internet survey.

The report of the Fifth Review Session has been released on May 12, 2014, which includes the guidelines for “scientific grounds”. Under the new functional labeling system, it will become mandatory to conduct one of the following test for functional claims.

1. Human studies to prove the claim, using final products.
2. Systematic review to prove the claim.

Now discussion is under way about the policy plans concerning these scientific grounds.

May 2014