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About the additives labeling methods

This time, I would like to feature the additives labeling methods as ingredients. Taking the following labeling as an example, I would like to review them along with the Food Labeling Standards.

Ingredients: wheat, sugar, whole egg, vegetable oil and fat, cashew, glucose syrup, walnut, almond powder, maple syrup, milk, salt/leavening agent, trehalose, thickening agent (xanthan), flavoring agent, coloring (caramel)

1 Except for items listed below, the ingredients labeling should be in descending order of the additives weight percentage,
(1) In case of foods containing additives used as listed in the upper column of the appended table 6, the indication of additive’s substance name and its additive’s category listed in the lower column of the table shall be provided on the label,
(2) for foods containing other additives, indicate the additive’s substance name on the label.

Food Labeling Standards (p.13 Additives)

(1): The eight use categories of additive listed in the upper column of the appended table 6 are the followings.

“sweetener”, “coloring”, “preservative”, “thickening agents, stabilizer, gelling agent or thickener”, “antioxidant”, “color former”, “bleaching agent”, “antimold agent/fungicide”

Additives used under these additive’s categories will be indicated by adding the substance names of the additives to the category name listed in the lower column of the appended table 6; and in the above example of labeling, both, thickening agent (xanthan) and food coloring (caramel) fall under this point.

(2): In case of additives which are not used for the use category listed in the upper column of the appended table 6, the substance names are written on the label. In the above example of labeling, “trehalose” falls under (1) and (2), but “leavening agent” and “flavoring agent” do not.

The additives labeling methods are indicated as follows, as the content of item 3. “Leavening agent” and “flavoring agent” are displayed according to this.

Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1, the labeling of the additive’s substance name shall be done with the additive’s name that is commonly used.
(3) In the case of foods containing additives used as listed in the upper column of the appended table 7, the name can be substituted by the listed ones in the lower column of the table.

Food Labeling Standards (p.14 Additives)

(3): The names listed in the upper column of the appended table 7 are the following.

“yeast food”, “gum base”, “lye water (kansui alkaline solution)”, “enzyme”, “glazing agent”, “flavoring agent”, “acidulant”, “softener for chewing gum”, “seasoning (excluding seasoning falling under sweeteners or acidifiers)”, “coagulant for tofu”, “bittering agent”, “emulsifier”, “pH adjuster”, “leavening agent”

This may be easier to understand through referring to “Regarding Food Labeling Standards, Attachment: Additives 1-4”.
A definition, group name and a range of the additive are provided for each, and depending on the use category and the additive, some may be displayed with the group name on the label as in the above labeling example.
As you can see, there are three major methods for additives labeling, (1), (2) and (3).

Regarding labeling where both the category names and the additive’s substance names are displayed on the label which is featured in (1), when the additive’s substance name contains the words “color” or “thickening”, the labeling of the additive’s categories like “coloring”, “thickening agent” or “thickener” can be omitted. It is also possible to use the abbreviation of the function name as the commonly used additive’s substance name. Therefore, even in case of products using the same additive under the same category, labeling methods may differ depending on the person in charge of labeling and the company rules.

In addition, for labeling grouped by categories names mentioned in (3), it is allowed to reduce the number of characters when the space is limited, and it is easier to understand the purpose of use than displaying the additive’s substance name only but there is also the other aspect that the used additive will not be recognized by those who watch the label. This has been considered as one of the issues at the current discussion meeting on the food additive labeling system.

Generally, there is still an impression that people do not have a good image about “additives”, but their necessity of use in the food production is undeniable. Therefore, I hope everyone will follow the labeling standard methods in order to enhance its easiness and understandability.

References:
Food Labeling Standards
Regarding Food Labeling Standards

March 2020