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“Regarding Food Labeling Standards” and “Food Labeling Standard Q&A”
have been revised

~Almond has been added to the list of recommended allergens labeling, Labeling of food products derived from genome editing technology, etc.~

On September 19th, 2019, the Consumers Affairs Agency announced the amendment of “Regarding Food Labeling Standards” and “Food Labeling Standard Q&A”. The main amendments included the addition of the almond to the list of foods equivalent to specified ingredients and regulations regarding the labeling of food products derived from the genome editing technology. I would like to summarize the details of these amendments below. The main amendments included the addition of the almond to the list of items equivalent to specified ingredients and regulations regarding the labeling of food products derived from the genome editing technology. I would like to summarize the details of these amendments below.

The major amendment points of “Regarding Food Labeling Standards”

In this notice, the allergens labeling regulations regarding almond were amended. Other than that, “peanuts”, which used to be allowed to use as a substitute word for “rakkasei” (落花生)”, is considered equal to rakkasei on labeling. In addition, the number of items equivalent to specified ingredients, etc. was revised from 27 to 28.

  • Items equivalent to specified ingredients… Addition of “almond”
  • Appended table 1: Scope of specified ingredients, etc.
  • Specified ingredients, etc. Classification number (1) Classification number (2) Large classification Middle classification Small classification
    Almond 69 8593 Edible nuts Other edible nuts Almond
  • Appended table 2: Example of labeling for additives derived from specified ingredients, etc.
  • Name of Items equivalent to specified ingredients Division Name of additive Labeling for Items equivalent to specified ingredients Note
    Almond - - - -
  • Appended table 3:  List of substitute description methods for specified ingredients, etc.
  • Items specified in the notice Substitute description Extended description (example of description)
    Although the description method and words are different, it can be understood as same as items equivalent to specified ingredients. Example of food which can be understood to be using Items equivalent to specified ingredients because the description contains a food name of Items equivalent to specified ingredients or their substitute description.
    Almond   Almond oil

    Reference: “Appendix Labeling of foods containing allergens”

    As there are several changes in some labeling contents other than allergens, I recommend checking “The old and new comparative table”.

    The major amendment points for “Food Labeling Standard Q&A”

    First, let’s check the amendment mentioned above regarding almond. I will quote the amendment regarding the “scope” and the “transition period” for almond.

    (D-8) Please tell me the scope of “almond” as an item equivalent to specified ingredients.
    “Almond” has sweet and bitter varieties. Although the sweet varieties are mainly the edible ones, the amendments also apply to the bitter ones. Also, be aware of almond oil, almond milk, etc., as they are allergens.

    (I-9) In September 2019, “almond” was added to Items equivalent to specified ingredients, but when does it have to be labeled?
    (Answer)
    As the transition period based on the Article 4 of Food Labeling Standard Supplementary Provisions will come to an end on March 31st, 2020, food related business owners are switching their packaging materials in response to the new labeling system. In addition, almond was added as an Item equivalent to specified ingredients, not as a specified ingredient. Therefore, if almonds are to be displayed on the label as allergen, it is advisable to start as soon as possible, but each food business operator must decide when to start using the new labeling depending on the switching state of the handled food packaging materials.
    Also, for food-related business operators who handle almond to properly display the allergen on the label, the management status at the distribution stage such as ingredients suppliers is also important. Therefore, please quickly share information about the management status with the other business operators.

    Switching should be done “as soon as possible” “left to the judgement of each food related business operator”, but it is assumed that it can be confirmed in the ingredient’s specifications. Thus, it is necessary that the ingredient’s suppliers deal with it soon. Also, when imported food is used as an ingredient, as walnuts, cashews and almonds are often managed under a general term such as “tree nuts” in foreign countries, you need to be aware that it is required to individually check the presence of every one of them.

    Next, a new Q&A regarding the labeling of food products derived from genome editing technology has also been created.

    1. What kinds of foods are considered as food products derived from genome editing technology?
    2. Are food products derived from genome editing technology subject to the labeling system for genetically modified food based on Food Labeling Standard?
    3. When a food product derived from genome editing technology does not fall under the genetically modified food regulations, is it allowed to put a labeling which says it is related?
    4. Is it allowed to write “It is not a food product derived from genome editing technology” on the labeling? Also, is there anything to be careful about when we write it on labeling?
    5. Is it allowed to write “It is not genetically modified” on labeling for food products derived from genome editing technology which do not fall under the genetically modified food regulations?

    The answers are long, but the summaries are as follows.

    • Among food products derived from genome editing technology, there are some products using technologies fall under the recombinant DNA technology based on Food Sanitation Act (ones that fall under genetically modified food based on Food Labeling Standard) and the others aren’t.
    • Food that is made using recombinant DNA technology must be treated as a genetically modified food under Food Labeling Standard. Therefore, it must be labeled following the labeling system for genetically modified food. On the other hand, foods which do not use the recombinant DNA technology do not fall under genetically modified food regulations, so these types of food products derived from genome editing technology are not subject to the labeling system for genetically modified food based on Food Labeling Standard.
    • Regarding genome edited food and processed food whose ingredient is genome edited but not falling under the genetically modified food regulations it is not appropriate to require food related business operators to label for it at this point.
    • Labeling as “Not a food product derived from genome editing technology” is not particularly prohibited, as far as it is done appropriately.
    • Labeling as “Not genetically modified food” (of food products derived from genome editing technology that do not fall under the genetically modified food regulations) must be done according to the regulations of Food Labeling Standard.

    This is it for Q&A of labeling for food products derived from genome editing technology. For the full text, please check “Annex related to food products derived from genome editing technology” of Food Labeling Standard Q&A or “The old and new comparative table.”

    Other amendments to Food Labeling Standard Q&A, included that the country of origin of chocolate is the country where the tempering was done , that information must also be provided regarding ground meat mixture that it must be heated and that the edible meat parts names must be indicated on the label according to Fair Competition Code. If you are dealing with related foods, I recommend that you go through it at least once.

    References:
    About the Food Labeling Standard (the 17th amendment)
    The old and new comparative table

    The Food Labeling Standard Q&A (the 9the amendment)
    The old and new comparative table

    November 2019