Policy Picks: Regulatory stories from China, Japan, India and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Regulatory stories from China, Japan, India and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images
Regulatory stories from China, Japan, India and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images

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Regulatory stories from China, Japan, India and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks.

China registration rules: Foreign food companies must now pass ‘expert panel’ reviews

Foreign food companies seeking registration approval for both plant and animal products in China​ will need to pass the review of two ‘expert panels’ formed by selected customs officers, as recently emphasised by an updated set of regulations published on the country’s customs website.

These updated rules are under the purview of the Department of Animals and Plants of the General Administration of Customs (GAC) of China, and apply to all companies dealing with the production, processing and storage of animals, plants and the related products who wish to apply for the registration of these in the country.

In the updated regulatory document as published by GAC on November 29, after an application is received from any foreign company that fits the above criteria, an initial documentation review will take place before the application is accepted.

After acceptance, the department will then take steps to form an expert panel to review the application.

Premium protection: Japan plans to strengthen IPs for high-end fruit and veggies

Japan is looking to strengthen intellectual property (IP) control over its premium fruits and vegetables​ being sold overseas in an effort to stop its high-end agricultural crops from being grown, and ultimately sold as the produce of other countries.

According to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), amongst the crops that have been impacted by failure to properly implement IP control overseas have included the high-end Shine Muscat grapes which have been grown by other countries such as China and Korea.

FoodNavigator-Asia​ has confirmed with MAFF that one of the proposed initiatives for this is for the ministry to appoint a private organisation next year to work on the IP protection of new Japan-cultivated fruits and vegetables.

Milking it? Indian regulator puts onus on industry for self-testing and monitoring

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has just released its new Action Plan for Safe and Quality Milk and Milk Products, with the majority of actions targeted at self-testing or self-monitoring​ by dairy companies, farmers and consumers.

The  plan comprised of 12 points of action, and was based on the previously-released National Milk Safety and Quality Survey 2018, the results of which have previously been disputed by various parties despite the agency’s insistence that these had successfully ‘dispelled wide-spread perception that liquid milk in the country is largely adulterated​’​.

“The outcome of the survey is a myth buster. The survey results indicate clearly that milk being sold in India is largely safe for consumption. [Let] the fears associated with consumption of milk vanish,”​ FSSAI said previously.

In a new statement on this latest action plan, FSSAI continued to claim that ‘only 7% [of] milk samples had contaminants or adulterants that rendered such milk unsafe’​, and that the 12-point action plan would ‘ensure the safety and quality of milk and milk products in the country’.

“These actions are broadly in three areas, namely – Testing and continued surveillance, Preventive and corrective action for implementation and monitoring, and Consumer engagement,”​ said the agency.

Closer scrutiny of the 12 points of action in the ‘Action Plan on site’​ which FoodNavigator-​Asia has viewed courtesy of FSSAI has revealed that many of these are very heavily reliant on self-testing and self-monitoring, whether by dairy companies, farmers or consumers.

Philippines rice saga: Government confirms stricter import controls despite President’s pledge to ban them

The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) has opted to control rice imports and prices​, even though President Rodrigo Duterte previously said all imports would be halted.

This is the latest development in a long line of confusing and seemingly contradictory statements and policies. 

Duterte originally signed the rice tariffication law and removed import caps earlier this year in February in an attempt to bring down rice shortages and severe price hikes in the Philippines.

A huge amount of rice entered the country after this was passed, easing the then-precarious situation.

However, nine months on, Duterte announced at a press conference earlier this month that he had ordered Agriculture Secretary William Dar to suspend all imports of rice in order to help local farmers suffering as a result of rice importation, and called on the government to buy local rice at farmgate prices instead.

The DA later said that this could not be done without amending the rice tariffication law, and Duterte said he had been misunderstood'.

Better late than never? New Zealand government finally responds to industry’s anti-obesity plan

The New Zealand government has finally responded to the country’s Food and Beverage Industry Taskforce on Addressing Factors Contributing to Obesity’s report​ and its list of 51 recommendations.

The taskforce’s report and recommendations had been submitted to the Ministry of Health and Food Safety in December 2018.

Minister of Health Dr David Clark and Minister of Food Safety Damien O’Connor responded to taskforce secretariat representative Katherine Rich in November 2019, making it almost a full year before the taskforce received a response.

In the letter, which FoodNavigator-Asia​ has viewed courtesy of Rich, the ministers apologised for the delay in response and commended the taskforce for its efforts, then expressed support for the ‘principles underlying the report’s recommendations’​.

They also proceeded to urge that 14 of the 51 recommendations be prioritised in alignment with the WHO’s Essential Nutrition Actions workstreams that surround reformulation, nutritional quality of foods, labelling and information, as well as marketing foods and non-alcoholic drinks to children.

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