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Food label news: Highlights of 2019 and upcoming schedules

During the past year, there were various announcements and changes related to food labeling. As this year, 2020, will be the end for the transition period for the new Food Labeling Standard, we hope this article will offer you the opportunity to check again the upcoming schedules.

Last Year's Highlights

One of the biggest concerns for those in charge of food labeling, is the addition of almond to the list of recommended allergens labeling in September 2019. This section summarizes the amendments to the standards, mainly related to "Food Labeling Standards", "Regarding Food Labeling Standards (Notification)", and "Food Labeling Standards Q & A".

2019 March The Food Labeling Standard Q&A (the 6th amendment)
(“entity/company in charge of the nutrition facts labeling” description such as *1)
The amendment of the guidelines on the notification of foods with function claims
(“data including mildly symptomatic patients” description such as *2)
The amendment of the Q&A for foods with function claims
(“list of substances that can only be used as drug” description such as *3)
The announcement of the guidelines on the provision of the country of origin of ingredients labeling (prefix labeling) *4
April The amendment of the Food Labeling Standard (the labeling system for genetically modified food *5)
The 1st Discussion on the Food Additives Labeling System *6
June The amendment of administrative procedures for the labeling permission of Foods for Special Dietary Uses and Foods for Specified Health Uses.
September The 17th amendment of the Food Labeling Standard (“almonds” description such as *7)
The Food Labeling Standard Q&A (the 9th amendment)
(“almonds” * 7, “foods derived from genome editing technology” description such as *8)
*1. For food products manufactured by small business operators, it is possible for a non-small-scale business operator to add the nutrition facts to the label.
*2. A separate report will be notified to the extent that the use of data that includes mildly ill subjects is exceptionally permitted.
*3. Unless the product falls under the category of drugs, related components in “the list of substances that can only be used as drug” are subject to labeling.
*4. As for ingredients which are “ingredient-name-labeled”, regardless of the order of weight, voluntary labeling of the country of origin is recommended.
*5. “Not genetically modified” and “Non-genetically modified” can be labeled only when no genetically modified agricultural products are being mixed.
*6. It is necessary to pay attention to the final report scheduled for the end of March 2020, and especially to the labeling of “-free” and “non-use”.
*7. As “almond” was added to the list of foods equivalent to the specified ingredients, the number of items equivalent to the specified ingredients was changed from 27 to 28.
*8. Labeling is not mandatory for foods and ingredients derived from genome editing technology and do not fall under genetically modified foods category.

In addition, many “Fair Competition Codes on labeling” were amended, and “the Fair Competition Codes on edible laver labeling” were abolished. Therefore, we would like to summarize them here.

◆Fair Competition Codes amended in 2019:

Natural cheese, processed cheese and cheese food, ice cream and ice confectioneries, fruit drinks, etc. and coffee drinks, etc. and, freeze-dried tofu, packaged sliced bread, soy sauce, edible salt, tourist souvenir, honey, etc. and imported beer, whisky, imported whisky, awamori (strong Okinawan liquor distilled from rice or millet), and single distilled shochu

◆Fair Competition Codes abolished after the Food Labeling Standard enforcement of (2015):

Pasteurized lactic beverages (abolished in 2018), synthetic lemon (abolished in 2018), edible laver (abolished in 2019)

Upcoming schedules

Finally, we summarized the information related to labeling which is expecting a change in the next few years such as the end of the transition period for the Food Labeling Standard (processed food) at the end of March this year.

March 31, 2020 End of the transition period for “the Food Labeling Standard” (processed food, additives) (manufacturer identification codes) will end.
June 1, 2021 Date of enforcement of the “Act on partial amendment of the Food Labeling Act” (Obligation of the voluntary recall report)
March 31, 2022 The transition period for the new Country of Origin of Ingredients Labeling system will end
2021-2022* Scheduled transition to shift “walnut” to the list of mandatory allergen labeling items

* In July 2019, walnut was designated as a mandatory labeling item, and since discussed issues such as “the development of a testing method and validity evaluation are needed “to secure the effectiveness of execution” are being organized, they are preparing to enforce it in 2 to 3 years.

Also, in August 2019, “Report on the perspectives of food labeling (Consumer Commission Food Labeling Section Meeting)” was published.
The idea of “comprehensibility” and “web” was also summarized, so if you would like to search for a better labeling, we recommend you read through it once and consider your future schedules.

References:
The Food Labeling Standard Q&A (the 6th amendment) the old and new comparative table (entity/company in charge of the nutrition facts labeling, etc.))
The guidelines on notification of foods with function claims (“data including mildly symptomatic patient”, etc.)
Q&A on foods with function claims (“list of substances that can only be used as drug”, etc.)
The discussion on the Food Additives Labeling System
The guidelines on the provision of the countries of origin of ingredients labeling in the "ingredient-name-labeled”
Amendment of the Food Labeling Standard, old and new comparative table (labeling system for genetically modified food)
About the Food Labeling Standard (the 17th amendment) old and new comparative table (“almond”, etc.)
The Food Labeling Standard Q&A (the 9th amendment) old and new comparative table (“almond”, “foods derived from genome editing technology”, etc.)
The list of Fair Competition Codes on labeling
The report on the perspectives of food labeling (Consumer Commission Food Labeling Section Meeting)

February 2020