Policy Picks: Regulatory updates from New Zealand, India, China and more feature in our round-up

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Regulatory updates from New Zealand, India, China and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images
Regulatory updates from New Zealand, India, China and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images

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Regulatory updates from New Zealand, India, China and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks.

‘Flying blind’? New Zealand industry calls for fresh data as government mandates folic acid addition to flour

The New Zealand food industry is calling for an updated national nutrition study to find out accurate folic acid intake levels in order to ensure that the government is not ’flying blind’ in its recent decision to mandate the addition of this to flour.

The New Zealand government issued its decision to mandate the fortification of folic acid in all non-organic wheat flour used for bread making in hopes to improve health outcomes earlier this year, giving all related flour and bakery firms until mid-2023 to make the necessary transition.

Not everyone is in favour of the government’s new mandate – the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC) is calling for more caution to be exercised.

“[NZFGC] has made clear our support of folate and its role in nutrition. Members of FGC have been voluntarily fortifying bread for many years now. ​NZFGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Our caution has always been based on evidence of concerns about [issues including potential] over-consumption [especially] children one to eight years old; the interaction of a high folate status and low vitamin B12 with respect to cognitive function; and the impact of unmetabolised folic acid circulating in the blood.

New rules cut the mustard: Indian industry lauds government’s blended oil ban to prevent fraud and increase value

The edible oil industry in India has lauded the Food Safety and Standards Authority India (FSSAI)’s recent enforcement of a ban on blended mustard oils, saying it is crucial to prevent adulteration and drive premiumisation in the category.

FSSAI gazetted the banning of all blended vegetable oils containing mustard oil earlier this year, but only recently issued a formal order to the food safety authorities in all states and Union Territories in India.

“Any multi-source edible vegetable oil containing mustard oil manufactured on or after June 8 2021 [is prohibited and all] multi-source edible vegetable oils shall not be sold in loose form [but] in sealed package weighing not more than 15kg,”​ said FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal via a formal notice.

According to Indian edible oils firm BL Agro, the reasoning behind this ban is the widespread use of mustard oil in adulteration due to its natural colour and pungency.

“A lot of adulteration in the edible oils industry was happening due to the blending of mustard oil with other oils, as its high pungency levels and colouration covered up any traces of poor quality even if the other oil use was very substandard,”​ BL Agro Managing Director Ashish Khandelwal told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

IP Protection in China: Lessons to be learnt from Zespri’s loss of control over illegal planting of its gold kiwifruit

Food firms looking to enter China have been urged to pay closer attention to Chinese legal requirements and work with local authorities to ensure trademark protection of their products, following Zespri’s ongoing challenges with illegal gold kiwifruit plantings in the country.

Zespri has been attempting to wrestle back control over golden kiwifruit or Gold3 in China where illegal plantings have been spreading since 2016 when a Chinese planter smuggled sprouts in, but local legal action has been ineffective.

Earlier this year, the firm decided to move away from the legal route and its latest attempt to gain back control was to propose a one-season trial of growing Gold3 Kiwifruit in China under licensing to ‘understand what options we have’​.

“Without taking further action now, the unauthorised plantings are likely to continue to increase rapidly, and as a result, so will supply of counterfeit and competitor fruit,”​ Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson said.

However, the proposal met with failure as less than 75% of New Zealand kiwifruit producers voted to approve it, and now Zespri essentially has its hands tied.

When asked what lessons foreign brands can learn from this entire incident, David Ettinger, partner at the Shanghai office of US-based law firm Keller and Heckman LLP urged firms to do their groundwork thoroughly to avoid incidents such as IP infringement.

Organic RoboCop: South Korea warns ‘eco-friendly’ food firms that new robotic authentication scheme is ready to roll

The South Korean government has warned organic food firms and sellers to ensure the authenticity of product claims made online as a new robotic authentication system will be rolled out in July to intensify fraud detection, and severe penalties lie in wait for violators.

South Korea has been developing and piloting technologies to ensure local food safety, such as an app to trace imported food product safety earlier this year, and recently the government rolled out another technological tool, this time to crackdown on foods suspected of fraudulent organic, pesticide-free (minimal chemical fertiliser used) and other eco-friendly claims.

The new tool, based on Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and developed by the National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service (NAQS) will be used to crackdown on products which are falsely labelled as organic, eco-friendly or making other related claims online.

“There was previously a limit to checking the increasing number of eco-friendly and organic products, particularly those sold online, as civil servants had to manually search for the advertisements making such claims and go through the process of checking each one,”​ NAQS Director General Lee Ju-myeung said via a formal statement.

Braced for a big impact: Nutra industry laments lack of clarity over new China customs registrations

The nutraceutical industry has lamented a lack of clarity over a new factory registration rule that the Chinese authorities will be implementing from January 1, 2022.

There are concerns that exports to China might be halted if factory registrations are not completed by the deadline. There are also feedback on a lack of clarity and instructions required for completing the registration.

Overseas manufacturers of health foods and special dietary foods will need to show proof of recommendation from their country’s competent authority in order to register their factories with the GACC.

Regulatory experts whom NutraIngredients-Asia ​spoke with said that to date, the GACC had only passed down a general announcement without further details on how the registration would take place.

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