From infant formula laws in China, the settling down of functional food rules in Japan, and the imminent arrival of new supplement regulations in India, 2016 has seen extensive regulatory changes – some for the better, some for the worse.
These are the top seven regulation and policy stories that were read most in 2016.
1) Japan moves beyond Foshu: Over 400 products approved under new health claims regime in last year
More than 400 foods have been approved under Japan’s 2015 Foods with Function Claims (FFC) regulation, with the market already estimated to be worth US$70bn.
The FFC rules came into force last year as an additional regulation alongside the country’s more stringent Food For Specified Health Uses (Foshu) system.
2) India’s new functional food and supplements rules: The key requirements every firm needs to know
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued its long-awaited rules for functional foods and supplements – publishing a 79-page set of criteria on its website.
The rules cover health supplements, nutraceuticals, food for special dietary use, food for special medical purposes, functional foods and novel foods.
Nutrition professionals, scientists and other public interest bodies are staying on the sidelines and allowing the food industry to dominate Australia’s nutrition policy-making, according to research analysis.
It showed that the food industry had both more and higher level access points to policymakers than nutrition professionals and therefore had the greatest capacity to influence policy.
4) China infant formula uncertainty claims another victim: Murray Goulburn and Mead Johnson deal scrapped
Australian dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn and Mead Johnson Nutrition scrapped an agreement signed in March to supply infant formula to Asia.
The development followed a turbulent time for dairy and infant nutrition companies, many of which had previously enjoyed a rapid sales boom in Asia, driven by soaring demand in China.
There is concern about the considerable variance in the recommended consumption levels of infant formula and follow-on formula in Asia and questions over the amount of protein they are required to contain.
One expert, Dr Jacques Bindels, from Danone Nutricia Research, said he couldn’t decide if the variability in recommended consumption levels was due to the differences in national diets or simply the differing opinions of policy-makers.
The food and nutrition industry needs to stop looking at challenges such as obesity, malnutrition and waste as costly challenges and see them as the opportunities for creating “$2 trillion of added value” as it strives to increase global production by 70% before 2050.
‘Significant progress’ has been made in rolling-out voluntary Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) nutrition labelling in Asia over the past four years, but more work is needed to educate consumers and emphasise their benefits to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
According to Fast Facts on Packs, Food Industry Asia’s (FIA) Guideline Daily Amounts Nutrition Labelling Report 2016, of the 13 FIA members surveyed across 19 Asian markets, 11 had introduced GDA labelling, and most had done so across more product categories since the last survey in 2012.