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About entities/companies in charge of the nutrition facts labeling~from the 6th amendment of the Food Labeling Standards Q&A~

The Food Labeling Standards Q&A was amended for the 6th time on March 1, 2019.
As a new category of labeling examples, “entity/company in charge of the nutrition facts labeling” was added this time. Therefore, we would like to feature it here.

The original text added to the Q&A

Let’s review the content which was added to the Q&A.

(Processing-172) Regarding food products sold by small scale business operators (see note) to consumers, and not considering the cases where they voluntarily provide the nutrition facts labeling, it is allowed to omit the display of the product nutrients/calories content.
However, is it acceptable to do so when a small scale business operator produces the food but another, non-small scale, business operators sell it?

(Note)A “Small-scale business operator” is an entity who falls under one of the following definitions:

  • Business operators exempted from the consumption tax based on the article 9, paragraph 1 of the Consumption Tax Act (Act No. 108 of 1988)
  • Small scale business operators who are defined in the article 2, paragraph 5 of the Small and Medium Enterprises Basic Act (Act No. 154 of 1963)

(Answer)

When non-small-scale business operators sell food which small scale business operators have produced, it is not allowed to omit the display of the product nutrients/calories content.
In this case however, it is not necessary for manufacturers (small scale business operators) to deal with the labeling of the nutrients/calories content; instead sellers (non-small-scale business operators) can take care of it.

(Processing-173) When non-small-scale business operators sell food which small scale business operators have produced, if the non-small-scale business operator add the nutrients/calories content on the label, is it necessary to indicate the name and address of the entity who did it?

(Answer)

When non-small-scale business operators add the nutrients/calories content on the label, they will indeed be held responsible for the displayed content (that is to say, the nutrients/calories content).
In this case, it is desirable to indicate the name and address of the entity who added those labeling items, on a location close to the labeling described in appended forms 2 and 3 of the Food Labeling Standards (note: and which explain how to set out the nutrition facts in Japan).

[Example of labeling]

Nutrition Facts labeling

Per food unit

Calories
Protein
Fat
Carbohydrate
Salt equivalent

kcal
g
g
g
g

Person in charge of the nutrition facts labeling: ○○○○ Co., Ltd.
○-○-○ Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo Prefecture

Cases where the nutrition facts labeling can be omitted in the Food Labeling Standards

As a brief review, it is allowed to omit the nutrition facts labeling in the Food Labeling Standard in the following cases.
(Source: The Food Labeling Standards, article 3 paragraph 3)

Items listed below (when labeling the nutrition facts(*), and excluding food for specified health uses and food with functional claims.) (*):(that is, labeling of the amounts of nutrients/calories, generic terms for nutrients, their components, precursors, or all mentions containing expressions suggesting them etc...The same shall apply to the following)

  1. The available labeling space on the container is generally less than 30 square centimeters
  2. Liquor
  3. The product’s nutritional content/value is negligible *
  4. The product’s ingredients/raw materials (including their blending ratio) are to be changed within an extremely short timeframe
  5. The product is sold by a business operator who is exempted from the obligation to pay consumption tax based on the article 9, paragraph 1 of the Consumption Tax Act (Act No. 108 of 1988)

*In the case a product meets all standards where Calories, Proteins, Fat, Carbohydrates and Sodium can be expressed as “0” on the label, or in case the amount of nutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrate and sodium) and calories per day that are derived from said food are very small according to common sense and convention.
(Coffee beans and their extracts, herbs and their extracts, tea leaves and their extracts, spices, etc.) (from “Regarding Food Labeling Standards”, “The Food Labeling Standards Q&A”)

The term“Small scale business operators”, added to the Q&A, corresponds to the above mentioned point 5 (Product sold by business operators exempted from the obligation to pay consumption tax based on the article 9, paragraph 1 of the Consumption Tax Act).
It is thought that additional explanations in the Q&A have been requested because the expression “…sold by business operators…” did not mention“those who produce” and thus required further explanations.

Small scale business operators and nutrition facts labeling

This was added to the Q&A presuming a case where sellers deal with the nutrition facts labeling (instead of the manufacturers). In fact, this is likely being discussed with, in mind, the time taken for the delivery of local agricultural and fishery processed products to stores in regional area.
Also, the Food Labeling Act was implemented in April 2015 (including the now mandatory nutrition facts (expect in some cases)), and its transitional period ends in less than one year (on next March 31, 2020): yet many small-scale business operators are, without a doubt, still struggling with the creation of nutrition facts panel for their food labels which probably explains why this was added now in the Food Labeling Standards Q&A.

Thanks to this Q&A addition, if small scale business operators are requested (from the sellers) to display the nutrition facts, it will be easier for them to have the sellers to do it for them instead (depending on their trading relationship of course).
Likewise, for sellers who want to increase their selections of local agricultural and fishery processed products, they will surely have an increasing number of cases where they will need to create the nutritional facts labeling on behalf of the manufacturers (small scale business operators).

Note that, in the 6th amendment of the Food Labeling Standards Q&A, there are several other revisions (Ex: In regards to the labeling of the food unit in the nutrition facts, it is now allowed to label additional items outside the mandatory frame such as“The weight of each piece might vary but the labeling values are for XXg.” or “The weight of a piece ranges from X to Y g.”)
The Food Labeling Standards Q&A was amended several times, and in regards to the 5th amendment (from September 2018), it was added that: “Additives which appeal to the five senses such as flavours and colorants cannot be considered as carryovers (like seasonings and sweeteners might be) and need to be displayed on the label”.
Therefore, we recommend to review the information concerning the past amendments as well.

Reference:
The Food Labeling Standards Q&A 6th amendment (attachment) comparative table of the prior and amended versions

May 2019