Fair Competition Code related to labeling Foods for Specified Health Uses
"Fair Competition Code and Enforcement Regulations on Labeling of Foods for Specified Health Uses" announced by the Consumer Affairs Agency and the Fair Trade Commission on June 24, 2020, took effect on August 21st. Since Fair Competition Code has been required for Foods for Specified Health Uses, which are subjected to inspection by the Japanese government in terms of labelling, and a long time has passed since the system of Foods for Specified Health Uses was introduced in 1991, I would like to summarize the background to the enforcement of the Code as well as their main contents of the Code.
At the review of the Foods with Function Claims in December 2014, in “the report on Regarding Food Labeling Standards for Foods with Function Claims”, it is reported that the issues on what the rules should be will continue to be further discussed at the Consumer Commission not only about labeling issues but also about fundamental issues such as the relationship/order with the system of Foods for Specified Health Uses and advertisements of such foods and so-called health foods as well. After that, in June 2015, the Consumer Commission organized the following issues.
- Whether consumers are using the product with a correct understanding of the system which is aimed at maintaining and promoting their health and improving their diets (do they have excessive expectations for the effects?)
- There have been suspicions that unsuitable adverting/marketing for the effect of the product is being taken place. In addition, members of the Consumer Commission, who deliberate on permission to display Foods for Specified Health Uses, have raise issues regarding not only their labeling and advertising, but also their systems and operations.
This issue was discussed at the "the expert examination committee on what the Foods for Specified Health should be (Cabinet Office Consumer Commission)" from August 2015, and the following reports were made. They are the background of establishment of the Fair Competition Code this time.
-implementing follow-ups of the remedial status for business operators of which labelling have been pointed out at the ex-post checking
-establishing their “Fair Competition Code”
The Fair Competition Code for labeling Foods for Specified Health Uses has the characteristic of being involved in various food categories such as confectionery and beverages in a cross-sectional way. As such a rule, there has been a "Fair Competition Code regarding the labeling of souvenirs", which excludes foods subjected to other rules. However, there is no such exclusion rules for Foods for Specified Health Uses.
In addition, regarding the labeling of containers and packaging, the rules have been reorganized in accordance with Food Labeling Standards, so it seems that "labeling other than containers and packaging" (labeling of advertisements, etc.) needs to be paid attention to in practice.
Indications other than containers and packaging
Partial excerpts from Articles 9-11 of the Fair Competition Code and Articles 20-25 of the Enforcement Regulations of this Code.
|Mandatory labeling items||
|Recommended labelling items||
|Voluntary labelling items||
The above is an excerpt, so please refer to the enforcement regulations for details. For example, in the voluntary labelling item "1. Labeling regarding display of permission and others" it stipulates that rephrasing to catchphrases, simplification, partially omitted display, or additional explanation are allowed to be indicated. However, when displaying it, the indication which mislead people into believing that the product is approved by the government shall not be displayed.
The Fair Competition Code and Enforcement Regulations regarding the labeling of Foods for Specified Health Uses came into effect on August 21, 2020, but "labeling other than containers and packaging" (Articles 9 to 14 of the Fair Competition Code and Enforcement Regulations Article 20-26) will be enforced on the day when 6 months have passed from the public notice date on June 24, 2020.
Since the rules regarding advertising labeling such as those other than containers and packaging are stipulated in detail, it is recommended that those who handle general health foods as well as Foods for Specified Health Uses check the details of these rules.