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

By Pearly Neo

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

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

India’s plant-based blow: FSSAI order to delist products with dairy terms to hit online AND offline sales

The plant-based industry in India is set for a further blow after it was confirmed the Food Safety and Standards Authority India’s (FSSAI) recent order for online platforms to delist all plant-based products using dairy terms will apply to products being sold offline as well.

Earlier this month, FSSAI issued an order to food firms operating via e-commerce to delist all non-dairy products, including plant-based products from their sites with immediate effect, following an earlier complaint from the National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India (NCDFI) which operates the country’s largest dairy brand Amul.

According to the order, NCDFI’s complaint alleged that ‘non-dairy or plant-based products’ had violated FSSAI regulations which prohibit the use of ‘any dairy term for a product which is not milk, milk product or a composite milk product e.g. plant-based products’.

“FSSAI has [thus issued an order] dated September 1st 2021 to all e-commerce FBOs to investigate the labeling declarations of such products at their end and delist such products from their platform. Reports on this will need to be furnished to FSSAI,”​ FSSAI Executive Director (Compliance Strategy) Inoshi Sharma, who signed the original order, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Domestic demand drop: Japan updates aquaculture strategy to focus on expanding exports and productivity

The Japanese government has revamped its national aquaculture strategy to focus on expanding seafood exports and boosting the productivity of select sectors such as shellfish and algae, after acknowledging that domestic demand will continue to drop.

The demand for seafood in Japan, once one of the top consumers of seafood in the world, has been on a steady decline for several years now, and the Japan Fisheries Agency (JFA), housed under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), has confirmed that this situation is not likely to improve.

“Japan has always been a large market for seafood [but] domestic demand will be decreasing in the long run as our society continues to shrink and age – the aquaculture sector in particular is very dependent on domestic demand, and as this demand shrinks, it means the sector will find it difficult to see growth,”​ said JFA via its latest Aquaculture Growth Industrialization Comprehensive Strategy documentation.

India alcohol cartel concerns: Delhi drinks industry highlights monopoly and price fears

The alcohol industry in India has slammed Delhi’s new liquor excise policy as ‘disruptive’ and argues that new measures risk creating the very ‘cartels’ it aims to prevent.

The Indian state government of Delhi announced its new excise policy earlier this year, revealing massive changes to liquor regulations and operations in the state including the privatisation of liquor licences.

Delhi has been segregated into 32 zones for liquor licensing. Private bidders can compete for tenders, with the state government exiting the retail liquor business and placing this in the hands of private management.

According to a government affidavit, the new policy aims to ‘achieve optimum revenue for the government, to eradicate the sale of spurious liquor or non-duty paid liquor in Delhi and transform the consumer experience’

Korean officials crackdown on fermented milk advertised as Health Functional Foods in latest inspections

South Korea Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) is stemming the advertising of fermented milk as products with health benefits, such as improving intestinal and immune health, in its latest crackdown on probiotic-related products.

In its latest inspection, MFDS assessed the online advertisements of 1,400 products – which consisted of 977 Health Functional Food (HFF) and 423 general foods.

The most striking finding was that the advertising of general foods, mostly consisting of fermented milk, was deceptive and confusing – meaning consumers could have wrongly mistaken such products as HFF.

For example, fermented milk was advertised to improve intestinal and immune health, which are health functional claims that only HFF could make. 

A total of 75 products were found to have violated advertising regulations, of which 61 were general foods.


Allergens and food poisoning fears: Is Australia’s food system as safe as the government’s reassurances?

The Australian food system is touted to be one of the safest in the world, but continued reports on major safety issues such as allergens and microbial contaminations are raising questions over whether more needs to be done to protect consumers.

The Australian government has continually publicized its food supply as ‘reliable, safe and nutritious’​, and the results of its 26th​ Australian Total Diet Study – which, interestingly, only looked at persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as dioxins and polycholorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in this edition – appeared to confirm this.

PCBs have been shown to be carcinogenic, whereas dioxins are also highly toxic compounds which can cause health issues such as cancer, immune system damage and hormone interference.

“We looked at 33 foods typical of the Australian diet, taking 600 samples across all Australian states and territories [and tested these for POPs],”​ Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) said in a formal statement.

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