Policy Picks: Regulation and policy updates from the Philippines, China, South Korea and more feature in our round-up

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Regulation and policy stories from the Philippines, China, South Korea and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images
Regulation and policy stories from the Philippines, China, South Korea and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images

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Regulation and policy stories from the Philippines, China, South Korea and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks

No longer ‘nuclear food’? Philippines is latest country to fully lift all bans on Japanese foods

The Philippines has become the latest country worldwide, and the 12th in the Asia Pacific region, to fully lift all import bans and measures on Japanese foods​ previously restricted due to nuclear radiation concerns.

Many foods from the Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi have had import restrictions placed on them by countries worldwide since an 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck the country’s Pacific Coast on March 11 2011, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and causing radioactive iodine contamination to various nearby foods.

The Philippines lifted its bans and import restrictions on all Japanese foods from these regions earlier this month and this move was announced by Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. alongside Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu who was visiting the country.

"Japan welcomes the lifting of the import ban of food products from Japan by the government of the Philippines,"​ said Toshimitsu at a press conference.

Packaged foods in China: Compulsory allergen labelling and negative claim crackdown proposed

Allergen labelling in China for pre-packaged foods​ could soon become mandatory under new plans unveiled by the Chinese National Health Commission (NHC).

The NHC has released draft GB7718 (General Rules for the Labelling of Pre-Packaged Foods) for public consultation.

This proposes amending the labelling standard to better protect consumers from exposure to potentially false or misleading labelling information.

It includes changing the way product information is declared, including making the allergen labelling mandatory, where it is currently voluntary.

Import boost: China reduces tax rates for multiple food items in hopes of promoting foreign trade

China has reduced the tax rates for multiple imported food items​ in the hope of promoting foreign trade and fulfilling local demand for products that are in short supply.

In documents published by the Ministry of Finance of the People’s Republic of China, reduced ‘Provisional’ tax rates were published for a total of 859 imported items, as compared to existing ‘Most-Favoured Nation (MFN)’ tax rates.

Of these 859 items, over 80 were food and beverage-related, leading to hopes that local food and beverage firms that use imported food materials as raw production materials will be able to benefit from the resulting influx of supply.

MFN tax rates are taxes imposed on imported products from WTO member countries, which means these cover most of China’s international trade partners. Usually, only countries that have Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China such as ASEAN, Australia and South Korea would see lower taxation than MFN rates.

As such, the lower Provisional tax rates for food products are expected to be a temporary measure enforced for only a set period of time, but no cessation date has been announced as of yet.

“In order to actively increase imports, stimulate import potential and optimise the relevant operational structure, [China] will be implementing provisional tax rates which are lower than MFN rates on over 850 items,” ​said the Ministry of Finance in a formal statement.

10-step plan: South Korea releases new nutrition labelling guidelines to increase food industry compliance

South Korea has released a new 10-step nutrition labelling guidelines​ document to address challenges faced by food businesses in correctly labelling food and beverage items, in the hopes of increasing industry compliance to standards and regulations.

The guidelines were issued by South Korean Minister of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) Professor Lee Eui-Kyung.

“These Nutrition Labelling Guidelines provide [information] at a glance explaining how to include nutritional ingredients on labels, for the utilisation of the food industry,”​ said Lee via a formal statement.

“These have been divided into 10 steps for easy checking and implementation by [food businesses] at each step.”

Allergen focus: Australia and New Zealand look to tighten mandatory labelling rules

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is looking to implement stricter mandatory allergen labelling regulations​ in both countries, particularly surrounding aspects such as clarity, consistency and prominence, and has opened this proposal to public comment.

This is the second round of calls for public comment with regard to the issue of allergen labelling, with the first round having taken place in 2018.

Dubbed the Plain English Allergen Labelling Proposal (PEAL), this updated proposal document is based on follow-up risk assessment work undertaken by FSANZ since the previous round of public submissions, including a consumer-focused literature review and an updated safety risk assessment.

“Our first call for comment showed broad support for changes to make sure that allergen labelling is clear and in plain English and consumers have the information they need to make informed and safe food choices,”​ FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth said in a formal statement.

“Currently the Food Standards Code requires 11 foods which can cause severe reactions to be declared whenever they are present as an ingredient, food additive or processing aid. [However], there are no requirements about how and where the declarations must be made on packaging.”

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