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"Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese (2020 version)" have been announced

~Revision of the standard values for the labeling of nutrients shelved~

The Consumer Affairs Agency announced the "Business Inspection Report on the revision of the standard values for the labeling of nutrients (hereinafter "Report")" on April 24, 2020.
*Please note that it might not be the latest since Food Labeling Standards, Notice Regarding Food Labeling Standards and Food Labeling Standards Q&A have been revised a few months ago, March 27.

[ Main Points ]

  • The "Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese (2020 version)" were officially announced by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare after the formulation and consideration of the standard values were reported in December, 2019.
  • "The standard values for the labeling of nutrients" in Food Labeling Standards are calculated based on the "Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese (2015 version)"
  • The Consumer Affairs Agency came to the conclusion not to revise "The standard values for the labeling of nutrients" this time after examining the standard values.

Background of the consideration

The standard values for the labeling of nutrients* are used as a basic standard when labelling nutrient content claims and Foods with Nutrient Function Claims. The background behind the revisions is summarized in the "Report".

The standard values for the labeling of nutrients stipulated in the Food Labeling Standards (Cabinet Office Ordinance No. 10/2015) are based on the "Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese" (hereinafter referred to as "Dietary Reference Intakes" (2015 version)) formulated by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. In regards to the nutrients indicated in the Dietary Reference Intakes, their related weighted average values for the population by gender and age group (limited to 18 years or older) are set to be used as the standard values when labeling a food product. The revision of the "Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese" was discussed during the "Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese (2020 version)" formulation study group of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The "Dietary Reference Intakes (2020 version)" was finally published after the 6th review meeting on March 22, 2019. As for the labeling standard values of nutrients, etc., and based on the revised Dietary Reference Intakes, they are partly used as a basis for the lower and upper limits of nutrients quantities (recommended daily intakes when labeling a functional claim for Foods with Nutrient Function Claims) and for other nutrient content claims. Therefore, this project is aimed at considering the revision of the labeling standard values of nutrients, etc., based on Dietary Reference Intakes (2020 version).

* In "Notice Regarding Food Labeling Standards(notice)", it is stated that the "labeling standard values of nutrients, etc., is aimed at labeling and is weighted average values of Dietary Reference Intakes based on the Japanese population. Therefore, the values are not necessarily daily standard values of nutrients, etc., for each and every individual.

Consideration result

In the "Report", the consideration results are summarized as follows.

The labeling standard values of nutrients, etc., based on the Dietary Reference Intakes (2020 version) are not to be revised. However, while clearly stating the evidences in the report, and grasping the status of peoples’ intake of vitamin D* from foods, the necessity of revision is to be carefully reviewed.

*After comparing and calculating the differences between the current value and tentative values of the standard values for the labeling of nutrients (calculated using Dietary Reference Intakes (2020 version) and the latest population estimate) for vitamin D, it turned out to be more than 50%. Vitamin D will consequently be treated as a priority.

Since the standard values for the labeling of nutrients are not to be revised, the lower and upper limits of nutrients quantities in Foods with Nutrient Function Claims and the standard values for nutrition content claims are not to be revised.

It is reported that committee members pointed out the followings regarding the indication of the revised year.

  • In order to clarify which year's standard values for the labeling of nutrients, etc., were referred to and indicated by business operators, should the description of said revised year be needed?
  • Even in the case the standard values for the labeling of nutrients would have not be revised, the decision itself was made that the revision would not be made after consideration. Therefore, it may be necessary to provide the year information for reference even if the revision is eventually not made.

Content of Revision of "Regarding Food Labeling Standards"

In response to the above, "Notice Regarding Food Labeling Standards" was revised on March 27, 2020. The following is the excerpt related to labeling of Foods with Nutrient Function Claims from "The old and new comparative table of Regarding Food Labeling Standards(19th revision)" (Due to the revision, the underlined part on the right side has been deleted. The deletion of the "Dietary Reference Intakes (2015 version)" was intended to eliminate confusion related to 2015 version and 2020 version, etc.

New Old

"The wording of the target age and standard calorie" means "the standard values for the labeling of nutrients (18 years old or older and the standard calorie of 2,200kcal)" and other related wordings.

It is acceptable to label the Dietary Reference Intakes for a specific gender/age group such as infants or women during a menstrual period voluntarily as far as mandatory items such as
-the ratio of the labeling standard values of nutrients, etc.
-the wordings regarding the target age and standard calorie of the standard values for the labeling of nutrients are displayed. In that case, specify the source.

"The wording of the target age and standard calorie" means "the standard values for the labeling of nutrients (18 years old or older and the standard calorie of 2,200kcal)" and other related wordings.

When labeling about the labeling standard values of nutrients, etc., based on the Food Labeling Standards, it is desirable to make a clear description such as the labeling standard values of nutrients, etc., (2015 version) ,so that it is easy to understand that it is based on the Dietary Reference Intakes(2015 version), in order to differentiate it from the Nutrition Labeling Standards.

It is acceptable to label the Dietary Reference Intakes for a specific gender/age group such as infants or women during a menstrual period voluntarily as far as mandatory items such as
-the ratio of the labeling standard values of nutrients, etc.
-the wordings regarding the target age and standard calorie of the standard values for the labeling of nutrients are displayed. In that case, specify the source.

In addition, "indicating the ability of a food to ensure the proper intake of certain nutrients/calories", which is a part of the Food Labeling Standards, was also revised. The labeling for "Low claims" changed from "can be made in case the value is less than the standard value" to "can be made in case the value is equal to the standard value or less".

In this column as well, we have recently given priority to news related to COVID-19, but if you haven't confirmed the revision on March 27, I recommend looking through it.

Source:
Business Inspection Report on the revision of the standard values for the labeling of nutrients (CAA)
The old and new comparative table of Regarding Food Labeling Standards (19th revision)

July 2020