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

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

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

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

Retort regulations: Australia tightens rules for imports containing meat, dairy and eggs

Australia has implemented more stringent regulations to govern imported retorted foods and beverages that contain meat, dairy or egg content, requiring an additional manufacturer’s declaration to be displayed prior to entry.

The country has a strong reputation for strict rules in the biosecurity department, recently making global headlines when Australian customs fined a passenger inbound from Singapore US$1,820 for an undeclared unfinished Subway sandwich in her purse.

The incident divided both the internet and the food industry alike, particularly after Subway stepped in to offer the passenger a Subway gift card for the value of her fine which drew ire from trade bodies such as the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC).

“It’s a national disgrace that Subway has thumbed their nose at Australia’s biosecurity arrangements and potentially encouraged a dangerous precedent for others to do the same,”​ RMAC Independent Chair John McKillop said.

‘Making it happen’: NZ industry says new grocery competition bill is ‘concrete step’ towards fairness

The New Zealand food and grocery sector has voiced wholehearted support for the government’s announcement of a new legislative bill addressing unfair competition in the local grocery sector, which was previously dominated by a duopoly of major retailers.

Led by recently-retired New Zealand Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC) Chief Executive Katherine Rich, the industry declared victory when its 12-year-long efforts culminated in the local Commerce Commission announcing that local grocery competition was indeed ‘not working well for consumers’​, and the government commencing work on a mandatory Grocery Code of Conduct.

Despite receiving pushback from the main players in the duopoly namely Foodstuffs and Countdown/Woolworths, New Zealand Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs David Clark has now implemented another significant step towards the establishment of this code by announcing a new Grocery Industry Competition Bill in parliament on November 21.

“Earlier this year, I called on the duopoly to lock in good-faith wholesale arrangements on their own terms or risk facing regulatory intervention – [They have] now been given plenty of warning [and] if they fail to adequately open up their wholesale market voluntarily, government will make it happen,”​ Clark said.

Organic observance: Japan tightens regulations for food imports and certification label sizing

The Japanese government has implemented tighter regulations for organic food imports, with firms required to appoint specific personnel and use standard organic certification labels to avoid being rejected.

Although the organic food market in Japan is still largely considered an emerging segment, the rise of the health and wellness trend in recent years has delivered a boost to the segment, which was valued at some US$1.8bn as of 2020.

With this rise has come an increase in interest from various international companies to break into Japan’s organic market, and a corresponding increase in organic food imports – this has in turn prompted the local government to implement more stringent regulations to govern the entry of this, as reflected in a recent announcement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

Labelling changes: Taiwan’s Health Ministry drafts logo for infant and toddler food products

Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has drafted a new logo and information to be printed on infant and toddler food products.

The logo, which consists of a woman carrying a baby, also comes with the slogans “mother’s breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for infants (母乳是嬰兒最佳的營養來源)” and “The Ministry of Health and Welfare cares for you (衛生福利部關心您).”

Other than that, the products should refrain from terms that makes reference to human breastmilk, such as “humanised milk (人乳化、母乳化) to show that the products are better than human breastmilk.

China celeb ban: No celebrity endorsement allowed for health supplements - SAMR

Health supplements brands are prohibited from engaging celebrities to endorse their products, the Chinese authorities have again warned, in a move which an expert says is targeted at a ‘grey area’ for overseas brands.

The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) announced the above, alongside six other regulatory bodies, including the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, National Radio and Television Administration, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, China Securities Regulatory Commission and the China Film Administration.

The overarching aim is to further regulate celebrities’ endorsement activities, in the wake of increasing advertisements that make false claims.

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