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New food labeling standards came into force! ~Summary of major changes and the latest additional information~

The new food labeling standards were promulgated on 20 March, 2015 and came into force on 1 April 2015. (Note: The rules for Manufacturer Identification Codes are scheduled to be established one year later.)

You have a 5-year grace period (until the end of March, 2020) for processed foods and food additives, and a 1.5-year grace period (until 30 September 2016) for perishable foods to implement the new standards and change food labels. Besides those changes listed below, a new labeling system for functional foods has been established.

Summary of major changes

1. Change in product classification for processed and perishable foods:

The new Standard is based on the JAS (Japan Agricultural Standards) law for the classification; those made by a simple process (e.g., dried mango) are now classified as "processed foods".

2. Change in the use of manufacturer identification codes (except foods for professional use):

In principle, the manufacturer's ID codes are permitted for use only when a product is manufactured at more than two facilities, and the codes have to come with their contact information.

3. Change in allergen labeling:

The name of specified processed foods (e.g. mayonnaise), as well as the ingredient name that includes the name of specified processed food (e.g. mustard mayonnaise) can no longer be mentioned on food product labels without declaration (either individual or collective) of the allergen present in respective ingredient. Individual labeling is basically mandatory, but in the meantime, you can list the name of specified ingredients collectively at the end of ingredients list, as long as all ingredients are mentioned.

4. Mandatory of nutrition labeling (except small businesses and foods for professional use):

The new Standard mandates in principle nutrition labeling for all processed foods. Sodium must be labeled as salt equivalent.

5. Change in the rules for nutrition claims:

The requirements and calculation methods to claim "reduced xxx" and "enhanced xxx" have been changed. The requirements for "No added xxx" claims have been added to the new Standard.

6. Change in the rules for food with nutrient function claims:

Items that can bear nutrition claims have been extended to fresh produce, except eggs. n-3 fatty acid, vitamin K and potassium are now allowed to be claimed their effects. With the change in reference value for such as nutrition labeling, statements on the targeted age and energy reference value must be labeled.

7. Change in the rules for ingredients labeling:

The current labeling requirement concerning the listing order of food ingredients and food additives has been expanded to all items including breads. The new Standards allows to individually list all ingredients of compound ingredients.

8. Change in food additive labeling (food additives for sale):

For products intended for professional use, the new Standard requires the name and address of the food additive manufacturer, and for retail consumption, the net content as well as the name and address of the manufacturer must be labeled.

9. Incorporation of food labeling regulations issued as "notices" into the new Standard:

New rules to prevent unintentional poisoning such as by blowfish and botulinum toxins, as well as reference value for nutrition labeling have been specified in the new Standard.

10. Change in food labeling layout:

The new Standard has expanded the scope of required labeling component into smaller food packaging. The mention of manufacturer information has become mandatory. In ingredients list, food ingredients and food additives must clearly be separated.

April 2015