Food manufacturers

Japan urges food manufacturers to finalize transition of raw material origin labeling

Japan first announced a review of its food labeling law in September 2017 to include the geographic origins of the main ingredient used to make a food or drink on product labels. Due to the massive nationwide commitment to implement these new labeling standards, the government has granted food companies a considerably long grace period for the transition, until March 31, 2022.

As the mandatory application deadline approaches, the local Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and the Consumer Agency (CAA) are urging local food companies to set out to complete the transition, or at least have the processes in place to complete the transition by March 31 of next year, to step up the pace or face stiff penalties if they prevent the passage to unfold smoothly.

“All food and beverage companies should remember that although the transition period lasts until March 31, 2022, there is [logistical] components to this switch such as control [and printing] packaging materials and labels in accordance with the new labeling standards’,MAFF said via a formal statement.

” MY F [and CAA] have created many types of guidance documents, illustrations and videos to guide food and beverage companies through this process [so it is essential to adhere to these] and systematically switch to all product labels, so as not to disrupt the transition.Have

The new origin labeling regulations will apply not only to processed foods made in Japan after April 1, 2021, but also to fresh foods used for commercial and industrial purposes.

“Companies or individuals [that do not comply with the new regulations] and continuing to sell foods that are falsely labeled or do not contain the origin of the main raw materials used to manufacture their products will be subject to severe penalties ”,warned the CAA.

“For individuals this could mean a maximum jail term of two years or a fine of up to 2 million yen ($ 15,555) while for businesses [the individual penalties will apply to those responsible] and fines for the company will be up to 100 million yen (877,728) USD. “Have

It was also pointed out that these new regulations would not apply to imported food and drink products, although these in turn would be subject to a mandatory global “country of origin” label, which will indicate where the product is from. has been imported but will not detail the origin of an individual ingredient, unless this is practiced in the exporting country.

“By weight, by country”Have

In the initial announcement of the new labeling regulations, food companies were told they will need to follow a “by weight, by country” method, which is mandatory for the ingredient that has the highest weight ratio. high in the product.

Labeling will also be slightly different depending on the actual ingredient. Fresh ingredients such as meat or vegetables will indicate the country of origin, while processed ingredients such as juice or chocolate will indicate the place of manufacture.

For example, a packet of sausages might read: “Pork (American), pork fat, protein hydrolyzate…” while a bottled soft drink might read: “Apple juice (made in Australia), sugar, water…” “.

“If the origins of certain ingredients are mixed, this must also be indicated. Thus, if a sausage uses two types of pork, it should be written “Pork (American, Domestic, Australian)” indicating the countries in descending order of weight. used, ” the ministry said.

However, as the packaging and manufacturing locations may change or change due to business operations and it may be difficult to display the country by weight for a single ingredient, some exceptions may apply. Have

“If the ingredient comes from two countries, the label may say ‘Pork (American or domestic’), and if it comes from three or more countries, it may also say ‘Pork (imported)’ or ‘Pork (domestic or imported) ‘”.Have

Although origin labeling currently only applies to the ingredient constituting the greatest weight in a product, the government has also stated that it is “desirable’for food companies to start voluntary labeling of the origin of their other ingredients as well – which in Japan could be a likely indication that this could also enter the regulatory phase in the future.

Dissension over new labelingHave

The CAA has also had to deal with some consumer dissension in terms of allowing the use of the term “imported” when it comes to ingredients from three or more countries – which has been criticized as “insignificant” because it would apply to the entire world apart from Japan, offering no concrete information on origins – and has since released a separate document in response.

“There are very few cases or products where this label display will be used [so there is no need to worry], “the agency said.

“The specific situation where this is allowed is only when raw materials or ingredients from three or more foreign production areas are used [or] when the use ratios of domestic and imported products are swapped in the use file for a certain period of time, and these situations persist even at the time of manufacture [so are difficult to tell apart].Have

“We [have proceeded with this decision as we] I think this is information that contributes to the voluntary and rational selection of products by consumers.Have