Regulatory Review: The Top 10 APAC regulations and policy stories of 2019 revealed

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

We bring you the most-read policy and regulations stories published throughout the year.
We bring you the most-read policy and regulations stories published throughout the year.

Related tags Regulation Policy Top 10

We bring you the most-read policy and regulations stories published throughout the year, featuring developments from India, Malaysia, New Zealand and more.

Cheap, dangerous oil: Indian FDA warning over adulterated products amid FSSAI rule change

The Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Adminstration Department has warned the Indian public about the continued dangers of adulterated edible oil​ despite a recent labelling change made by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

The state government food safety agency conducted a raid on a local oil mill earlier this year, and issued the warning after it discovered that higher-priced oils from sesame and groundnut were being adulterated with palm oil.

“[We found that] palm oil was being mixed with sesame oil and groundnut oil, [and unaware consumers were purchasing these] because of the cheap price,”​ said Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Adminstration Department Designated Officer Dr R. Chithra to Times of India​.

“[It is important to] obtain oils from reputed mills [and] avoid these adulterated products, [as] palm oil can cause health complications, especially heart-related ones.”


‘Next level’ of food safety in India: FSSAI announces new packaging regulations

The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) has announced new regulations prohibiting all food businesses in India from using ‘unsafe’ materials such as newspapers and recycled plastics​ to wrap food products.

“The food businesses shall have to comply with these regulations by July 1 2019,”​ said FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal.

According to the official FSSAI statement on the matter, the regulations will cover general and specific packaging material requirements as well as overall migration and specific migration limits of contaminants for plastic packaging materials

“[The] packaging materials used for packing or storing the food products shall conform to the Indian Standards provided in the schedules,”​ it added.

According to The National Law Review​, compliance to these standards was only on a voluntary basis previously.


More control: FSSAI wants to expand jurisdiction over India’s food imports and exports

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is looking to amend the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act to expand its jurisdiction over the country’s food product exports​, in addition to relaxing licenses and gaining control over animal feed.

Thus far, food product exports in India have not been listed under the purview of any domestic agency or the FSS Act.

According to statistics from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the value of US$18.6bn (INR11.9mn) in the FY2017-2018 timeframe from US$16.2bn (INR10.8mn) in FY2016-2017.

As of June 24, this has already hit US$18.7bn (INR13mn) for the FY2018-2019 timeframe.


Malaysia sugar tax: Implementation postponed to July, limits raised for milk-based drinks

Malaysia has announced the postponement of its sugar tax implementation date by three months​, as well as an increase in the sugar content limit for milk-based beverages.

The sugar tax implementation of RM0.40 (US$0.01) per litre has been delayed to July 1 from its original April 1 enforcement date.

It encompasses all packaged drinks under tariff heading 22.02 that contain sugar or other sweeteners in levels exceeding 5g per 100ml, as well as fruit and vegetable juices with sugar exceeding 12g per 100ml.

In a statement, Customs Department Director-General Dato’ Seri T. Subromaniam said that this move would give the local food and beverage industry as well as the Customs Department more time to make preparations and ready itself for the sugar tax.


Non-halal candy: Malaysia may follow Brunei in removing White Rabbit from halal shelves

Popular China-made candy White Rabbit has recently been under fire in Brunei after a study conducted by the country’s Islamic authority revealed it to contain pig protein​, and Malaysia now looks likely to follow in its South East Asian neighbour’s footsteps.

In an official statement, the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Brunei (MoRA) announced earlier this month that the Halal Food Control Division had sent samples of the White Rabbit candy to be analysed by the Health Ministry’s Scientific Services Department, which tested positive for pig protein.

“As such, MoRA is calling upon importers and retailers to separate this product from general shelves and put it in the ‘Non-Halal’ section, and for Islamic consumers to stay away from and not eat this product,”​ said the ministry.


Should they or shouldn’t they? Arguments for and against a sugar tax in New Zealand

As the debate surrounding the possibility of a sugar tax in New Zealand intensified earlier this year, industry groups stood firmly against it, whereas some academics and consumers were gunning for it. Here, we provided the lowdown on the state of the debate​.

Arguments against:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is a firm advocate against the taxation of sugar in the country, and released a report supporting its argument titled ‘The Bitter Truth: Why don’t sugar taxes work?’.

“[Sugar taxes] are remarkably ineffective as a way of getting people to reduce their consumption of sugary drinks, let alone reducing their consumption of calories or lowering their body weight,”​ said Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics, Institute of Economic Affairs in the report.

“Fizzy drinks only contribute a tiny fraction of a nation’s calorie intake and those who consume them are not very sensitive to price.”

Arguments for:

On the other side of the sugar tax coin, researchers from the University of Otago have released their own research saying that ‘self-regulation is not working’​ and that a sugar tax is ‘justified’​.

“New Zealand relies on industry self-regulation and has called for better labelling so individuals can take responsibility for their own sugar intake,”​ said lead author Dr Kirsten Robertson.


Butterfly pea blues: Taiwan officials warn against consumption of plant but permit colouring use

The Taipei City Government Department of Health has issued a warning against the use of the blue butterfly pea plant for direct consumption​ as a food or beverage, although its use as a natural food colouring agent has been permitted.

In May this year, the agency was informed of four beverage stores selling drinks using butterfly peas as a colourant, and as such launched an inspection into this.

The stores involved were: Coffee Alley, The Alley, ShareTea and Tao Cup. As a whole, the stores had been using butterfly peas as a food colouring for six different beverages.

A total of 97 food service outlets were investigated overall, covering over 4,800 products and over 14,300 ingredients before it was concluded that the use of butterfly peas as a natural food colouring was legal.


Healthy China: Ambitious plans to cut dietary oil, salt and sugar intake nationwide by 2030

China’s national health strategy guidelines, dubbed the ‘Healthy China Movement’, has announced ambitious goals of cutting dietary oil, salt and sugar nationwide by 2030​, in tandem with the overarching ‘Healthy China 2030’ initiative.

Directors from the Healthy China Movement committee revealed that the goal was to cut salt consumption by some 50%, oil consumption by 30% to 40%, and sugar consumption by at least 17% from 2012 numbers.

This would mean a daily consumption of 5g salt per person in 2030 vs 10.5g on average in 2012, 25g-30g oil per person in 2030 vs 42.1g previously, and not more than 25g sugar per person in 2030 vs 30g previously.


Sugar beat? UAE to impose 50% excise tax in 2020 on products containing sugar and sweeteners

In a move to reduce consumption of unhealthy products and prevent chronic diseases, the UAE Government will impose a fresh 50% excise tax on a raft of products containing added sugar or sweeteners​, with officials hoping it will reduce consumption of ‘unhealthy products’ and prevent chronic diseases.

The tax will take effect on January 1, 2020, and will include any SSB (sugar sweetened beverage) product containing sugar or sweeteners, and is produced as either a ready-to-drink beverage or as concentrates, gels, powders, extracts, or any other form that can be converted into a SSB.

This is an extension to the list of excise taxable products after the first in 2017, with 50% tax on carbonated drinks, and 100% tax on energy drinks.


Japan’s food labelling standards: Around 20% of products not compliant with new regime

One-in-five food products in Japan are still not compliant​ with the country’s new food labelling standards, with time rapidly running out for manufacturers to make the changes.

The 10 new standards were enforced in April 2015 by the Consumers Affairs Agency in Japan for the labelling of processed foods and additives for consumers.

Food firms were encouraged to implement the changes as quickly as possible, with a final cut-off date of March 31, 2020. But Hiroyuki Kawai, CEO of Label Bank, a company specialising in food labelling regulations told FoodNavigator-Asia​: “We estimate around 80% of total food products have followed the new food labelling standards​.”

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