China establishes new food safety panel; New labelling standard expected in 2013

BEIJING – China’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) has set up a new Expert Committee for Healthcare, Food and Cosmetics Safety “to provide technical consultation and suggestions for policymakers.”

According to local reports, a 35-member food safety expert subcommittee has been established in China, including boards for technical standardisation and risk assessment.

China-based FIA members who are following this development state that the organisation, which is named the China National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSRA) will initially comprise over 100 staff members transferred from the Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety of the China Centre for Disease Control (CDC). While the CFSRA is expected to expand to more than 200 staff members by the end of 2012, the organisation currently has no internal infrastructure, and is staffed only by a director assigned by the Ministry of Health (MoH).

As the new organisation will likely accelerate the adoption of global practices in China, and key staff members have been working with the food industry in their previous capacities for a number of years already, we hope the net outcome for the food industry will be positive.

National food nutrition labelling standard to take effect Jan. 1, 2013

In other China food industry news this week. . . On 2 November, the MoH announced China’s first national standard for food nutrition labelling, which is expected to take effect 1 January, 2013.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, the new regulation calls for food packaging labels to list nutritional information including “levels of energy, protein, fat, carbohydrate and sodium.” Xinhua further notes that “if any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat is used for producing the food, the level of trans fat will have to be highlighted on the nutritional information label.”

Food products that do not adhere to the new standard will be banned once it comes into effect, as the MoH attempts to encourage early compliance.

Xinhua quoted Yang Yuexin, a nutrition expert with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention as saying that “the regulation will help standardise the nutritional information labelling by food manufacturers, as well as protect consumers' rights to know and to choose, while improving public awareness of food nutrition.”