On the outside: China announces new labelling standards for pre-packaged foods to ensure visibility and clarity

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

China SAMR has announced new regulatory standards for pre-packaged food labels. ©Getty Images
China SAMR has announced new regulatory standards for pre-packaged food labels. ©Getty Images

Related tags China Labelling pre-packaged Standards

The China State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has announced new regulatory standards for pre-packaged food labels, urging food and beverage companies to comply in order to boost clarity for consumers.

China has made many updates to its food packaging regulations over the past few years surrounding labels​, packaging quantity​ and materials​. In its most recent update, the state regulator SAMR has announced a new set of labelling standards that all food and beverage manufacturers have been encouraged to comply with.

“In accordance with China’s Food Safety Law and to facilitate consumers being able to clearly and easily identify information on the labels of all pre-packaged food products, food and beverage firms are now encouraged to optimise their product labels according to these new standards,”​ SAMR stated via a formal statement.

“This is particularly pertinent to convey important information such as production dates and shelf life, so these must be clearly displayed on the main display panel of both the product’s closest layer of packaging (minimum sales package).

“Importantly, if the product has multiple layers of packaging around the minimum sales package, this information must also be visible on the outermost package such that consumers have access to it.

“If the production date and shelf life information are indicated in the form of ‘see a certain location on package’, this location needs to be clear and obvious at a glance, the description must be accurate, and it must be easy to find.”

For example, a single mini chocolate bar in a multipack of chocolates must not only have its production date and shelf life information available on the mini chocolate bar packaging, but also on the outermost multipack packaging as well.

SAMR has also gone into specifics for the wording in these new labelling standards in order to ensure visibility.

“All words, numbers and symbols must have a minimum height of not less than 3mm, and a ratio of height to width that is not more than 3:1 when it comes to displaying this information,”​ the ministry added.

“This should also be clearly marked using black text on a white background or any background colour that contrasts clearly with the colour of the text.

“There must also be no omission of information – if there are multiple types of individual pre-packaged items in the same larger overall package, the shelf life or expiration date that must be indicated on the outermost package should be that of the item that will expire the earliest; otherwise manufacturers can also opt to indicate the expiry dates of each individual item.”

Technology for clarity

SAMR also called on food and beverage manufacturers to look to upgrading and improving the technology being used for this production date and shelf life information in order to avoid any potential issues arising from faded or abraded text.

“There is definitely a need for further improvements to be made to the technology used for the printing of these dates as well as the equipment used to do this, such as inkjet coding and printing,”​ it said.

“This is becoming increasingly important [in a time when food safety is more and more important to consumers] to ensure that all the necessary information that must be included on labels are long-lasting and clear for consumers to view and understand easily, in order to prevent any potential issues.”

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