Policy Picks: Regulatory updates from Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and more feature in our round-up

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Regulatory updates from Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images
Regulatory updates from Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images

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Regulatory updates from Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks.

Malaysia halal rules: New QR code launched to recognise foreign certification bodies in wake of meat scandal

The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) is improving the recognition of foreign halal certification bodies by adding on-pack QR codes and new training, moves that come in the wake of a high-profile meat scandal.

The fake halal meat scandal surfaced in December last year, where meat importers had allegedly bribed custom officials for 40 years to import and sell frozen meat from non-halal certified sources.

The meat including beef, kangaroo and horse meat were imported from countries including China, Ukraine, Brazil, and Argentina, and were mixed and repackaged in Malaysia and sold to consumers.

This had raised fury and concerns since these meats were typically not slaughtered according to Islamic standards, nor sourced from approved stakeholders.

The government said in response to the meat scandal that it would develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to prevent the duplication of halal certificates through the use of digitisation in halal food products.

Food safety for kids: South Korea issues list of high-calorie, low-nutrition, high-caffeine foods banned from school grounds

South Korea has published a list of almost 3,000 food and beverage products which are banned from being sold on school grounds for being too high in calories and low in nutritional value, or high in caffeine in the government’s latest attempt to ensure food safety for children.

The East Asian nation has long been known to have some of the strictest regulations in place in the APAC region when it comes to controlling the sales of unhealthy foods high in salt, sugar, fats or caffeine to children, such as a mandatory restriction on the marketing of such foods to children.

South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) previously already implemented various measures to prevent the sales of such foods in schools such as designating ‘Children’s Food Safety and Protection Zones’ or Green Food Zones within 200m around a school where such foods were banned, but this new list of almost 3,000 prohibited foods now includes specific products, manufacturer names and nutritional information.

Coronavirus crackdown: Japan’s consumer chiefs warn against labelling foods and health products with false COVID-19 claims

Japan Consumer Affairs Agency (CCA) is warning general food and health food manufacturers against labelling their products as being effective in preventing or treating COVID-19, to avoid consumer misunderstanding and harming public health.

According to CAA, some manufacturers have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by labeling their products with protective health claims against the virus, which they say is “irrational”​ considering that not all the properties of the coronavirus is known yet.

In a notice released by CAA, 42 COVID-19 related claims found on the packaging labels of general foods, health foods, disinfectants, humidifiers, and shampoos clearly implied that their products could prevent or treat COVID-19 were listed.

‘Concentration of power’: NZ Grocery Code of Conduct moves to parliamentary stage as suppliers fight for their rights

New Zealand’s debate over creating a Grocery Code of Conduct has now moved to the parliamentary stage after the NZ Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC) presented it to parliament in the name of preventing potential ‘abuse of power’ by local supermarkets.

The debate over establishing a Grocery Code of Conduct to keep supermarkets in check has been in progress for some time, but things became especially heated in the last year after major New Zealand grocery chain Foodstuffs made changes to its buying model, which was seen by many to heavily disadvantage food firms from manufacturers to suppliers.

This appears to have hastened progress on the creation of the code and calls for its mandatory implementation, which NZFGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich presented to the House of Representatives at Parliament recently.

“[NZFGC has requested that] the House of Representatives support the establishment of a mandatory Grocery Code of Conduct for supermarkets, similar to those in Australia and the United Kingdom,”​ Rich said via the petition.

Colouring foods in India: Industry players optimistic amid clean label trend and rules changes

Suppliers offering colouring foods are optimistic of growth in India, in part due to enhanced regulations, but also the broader consumer move towards clean label preferences.

The Indian regulator FSSAI recently introduced that Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Tenth Amendment Regulations (2020), which recognises Colouring Foods as a separate category from synthetic and natural colours, the latter which are considered additives.

The new standard now considers Colouring Foods as a food ingredient, for the primary function of colouring.

Colouring Foods must be made from edible fruits, vegetables, spices or herbs, using water extraction that retain the original characteristics of the source material’s colour, taste and odour.

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