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Food label news: Highlights of 2020 and upcoming schedules (Japan)

I first summarized the news about food labeling of last year and its future schedules. Needless to say, there were a lot of issues concerning the COVID-19 infection last year, but here I would like to take the opportunity to reconfirm the topics related to food labeling.

Last Year's Highlights

I think that the big topic in carrying out work on food labeling was that the terms "artificial" and "synthetic" were deleted from Food Labeling Standards in July 2020 in order to review the labeling of additives. Mainly focusing on "Food Labeling Standards", I have summarized the revisions of related standards and their outlines here.

2020 March 24 Announcement "The guidelines to ensure transparency of the ex-post regulations (ex-post review) of Foods with Function Claims based on related legislations on food labeling, etc."*1
March 27 Partial revision of Food Labeling Standards
(addition of "foods containing designated ingredients*2", etc.)
March 31

End of the transitional period of "Food Labeling Standards"
(processed foods, additives) (Manufacturer Identification Codes)

March 31

Announcement "Report on Discussion about the Labeling System for Food Additives"*3

July 16

Partial revision of Food Labeling Standards
(Partial revision of " Guidelines for the legal names of seafood"*4, Deletion of the terms, "artificial" and "synthetic"*5, Addition of "Japanese Agricultural Standards for Organic Livestock Products"*6, etc.)

August 21

Enforcement of "Fair Competition Code and its enforced regulation related to labeling Foods for Specified Health Uses"*7

October 14 Public comments on "Revision of food labeling system for brown rice and milled rice (draft)" solicited*8
*1. In order to increase foreseeability of business operators, specific standards are provided mainly for "scientific evidence" and "advertising labeling".
*2. "The four ingredients are targeted, Coleus forskohlii", "Celandine", "White Kwao Krua", "Black Cohosh".
*3. The terms of "artificial" and "synthetic" are deleted. New guidelines for "XX not added" and "non-use" will be formulated.
*4. At the same time, " Proposed procedure for new standardized Japanese names for fish " was announced.
*5. The table in Article 3, Paragraph 1(Colouring), Appended Table 6(Sweetener, Colouring, Preservative), Appended Table 7(Flavouring) were revised.
*6. Organic livestock products and organic processed products of animal origin ingredients must also be certified by a third party and bear the organic JAS mark.
*7. Labeling items related to "Labeling on other than containers and packages" (labeling of advertisements, etc.,) are stipulated as  "required", "recommended", and "voluntary".
*8. Revision(draft) due to review of agricultural product inspection standards under deliberation after soliciting opinions (November 18, December 17).

In addition, the 18th to 22nd revisions of “Regarding Food Labeling Standards(notice)” on January 15, March 27, June 18, July 16 and November 30 were made, and the 10th and 11th revision of "Food Labeling Standards Q & A" were made in March 27, July 16, respectively.

Also, in March-April, some notices were announced regarding the flexible operation of the food labeling system due to COVID-19 infection. (“About the flexible operation of the Food Labeling Standards”, “About the flexible operation of the Rice Traceability Act” and “About the operation of Manufacturer Identification Codes labeling“, etc., which are all based on Food Labeling Act following the spread of COVID-19 infection.)

Future schedules

Finally, I've summarized some labeling-related information planned for the next few years.

June 1, 2021 Enforcement date of "Act for partial revision of Food Labeling Act" (voluntary collection report required)
July 1, 2021 "Revision of food labeling system for brown rice and milled rice" to be enforced
March 31, 2022 New countries of origin of ingredients system - End of transitional measures period
To be determined "Walnut" is scheduled to be added to mandatory labeling item for allergen
Formulating the guideline related to "not added", "non-use", etc.,
Conducting a fact-finding survey on additives for nutritional fortification purposes (in principle, to be required to be labeled on all processed foods)

COVID-19 and its impacts dominated almost all the topics last year. I hope we will be able to have more upbeat topics than last year.

References:
"The guidelines to ensure transparency of the ex-post regulations (ex-post review) of Foods with Function Claims based on related legislations on food labeling, etc.
Food Labeling Standards Old and New Comparison table (March 27, 2020 Cabinet Office Ordinance No. 20) (Addition of "food containing designated ingredients", etc.)
The Report on Discussion about the Labeling System for Food Additives
Food Labeling Standards Old and New Comparison table (July 16, 2020, Cabinet Office Ordinance No. 52) (Partial revision of "Guidelines for the legal names of seafood", Deletion of terms "artificial" and "synthetic", Addition of "Japanese Agricultural Standards" to "organic livestock products")
Fair Competition Code and Enforcement Regulations on Labeling of Foods for Specified Health Uses
Regarding Soliciting Opinions on Partial Amendment of Food Labeling Standards ("Revision of the food labeling system for brown rice and milled rice (draft)")

February 2021