Revealed: 10 most-read APAC supplement and nutrition regulation stories in 2019

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Read our 10 most read regulatory stories concerning APAC's health foods and supplement industry. ©Getty Images
Read our 10 most read regulatory stories concerning APAC's health foods and supplement industry. ©Getty Images

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Our 10 most read regulatory stories concerning APAC's health foods and supplement industry include India permits marijuana cultivation for research and medicine, China’s proposal for stricter infant-formula manufacturing processes and more.

Marijuana cultivation in India permitted for research and medicine, but nutraceuticals remain left out

Medical marijuana may soon make some progress in India, but any hope of more relaxed regulations on CBD or hemp for nutraceuticals has gone up in smoke, according to one industry expert.

In November last year, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research's Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM, a government research body) announced it was developing three 'natural' cannabis-based drugs to treat patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy and sickle-cell anaemia.

The first clinical trials will be conducted on 25 terminally ill cancer patients at Mumbai's Tata Memorial Hospital after the authorities granted regulatory approval for human testing of the drugs, according to the hospital’s director, Rajendra Badwe.

China direct selling: All 91 firms summoned to regulator meeting amid ‘100-day’ clampdown

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) and the Ministry of Commerce summoned all 91 direct-selling firms​ operating in China to a meeting as part of the “100-day operation” to clean up the health food market.

Industry experts previously told NutraIngredients-Asia​ that the direct-selling industry was especially hard-hit by the operation. One indicator was that the Chinese authorities have stopped issuing the Direct Sale License temporarily.

At the January 29 meeting, the direct-selling firms were told to self-examine its production process, information made available in the product labelling and dosage information, sales, internal management, and direct-selling agents.

Heavier fines and stricter criteria: China proposes five changes to infant formula registration process

The Chinese authorities have proposed five changes ​to the country’s infant formula milk powder registration process, in a bid to boost the level of quality, scientific evidence, and safe consumption of the products.

State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) announced that it was seeking public consultation on five changes proposed to the “Administrative Measures for the Registration of Product Formulas of Infant Formula Milk Powder” – a set of regulations first implemented in 2016.

“Since its implementation in Oct 2016, the measures have garnered attention within and outside of the country. There is a need to improve the means to a stricter registration process and clearly state the impermissible conditions,”​ the proposal said.

Probiotics regulations under review in China as regulator SAMR 'plays catch-up'

China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) is calling for public feedback regarding regulations for health food products containing probiotics.

The SAMR recently issued a draft entitled Provisions for Declaration and Review of Probiotic Health Food,​ asking for comments to be submitted before April 20 this year.

At the moment, the declaration and review of probiotic health food is based on an earlier draft named Provision for Declaration and Review of Probiotic Health Food (Trial), which was implemented on July 1 2005.

Nootropics and SARMs seized in Australia as TGA continues investigation into unlicensed health products

The growing popularity of nootropics and sports nutrition supplements is leading to a boom in unlicensed products being sold online, with Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recently seizing a raft of items.

The regulatory body announced that in conjunction with the NSW Police, Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and NSW Health, it had executed four search warrants for a business operating in Sydney that was suspected of selling unapproved nootropic supplements and selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs).

The operation​ was part of an ongoing investigation into the alleged import, advertising and supply of unauthorised therapeutic products; most recently, the involved regulators had seized black salve and blood root supplements​.

Australian fears arise over country-of-origin labelling laws after Federal Court ruling against Nature's Care

Australian supplement and health good manufacturers have expressed concerns over potential sales losses, following changes to Aussie country-of-origin labelling laws.

This comes after a high-profile court case between Australian supplement brand Nature's Care and Australian Made Campaign Limited (AMCL), which resulted in the Federal Court ruling that the company's imported fish oil and vitamin D capsules were not permitted to be labelled 'made in Australia', despite the encapsulation process taking place in Australia.

This ruling was issued​ under the Australian Consumer Law's (ACL) Country of Origin labelling provisions.

Cash crop: Thai authorities approve use of hemp in food, cosmetics and CBD in herbal products

Hemp and CBD are now allowed for use ​in herbal products made in Thailand after the authorities relaxed restrictions on their use.

The country issued a royal gazette, which allowed hemp to be used in herbal products, food, and cosmetics, with effect from Aug 27.

The Thai government also removed cannabis and hemp extracts with THC content of less than 0.2% from the list of banned narcotics substances. 

Strict and serious: '100-day operation' to clean up China's health food market

The Chinese authorities have started a '100-day operation'​ in a bid to weed out unscrupulous industry practices prevalent in the country's health food market.

The operation, which started on January 8, focuses on stemming fake advertisements, the manufacturing and selling of counterfeits, and other illegal and deceptive actions that disrupt market order. 

Spearheaded by the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), the cross-department operation also involves 12 other government units, including the National Health Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Ministry of Public Security.

China health claims concerns: Huge industry uncertainty as regulator embarks on regulations review

China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has announced the start of a public consultation to review health food claims​, leading to widespread industry uncertainty that regulatory experts claim will hit new product development and research.

A key part of the review​ is to consider the cancellation of existing health claims targeted at 'special consumer groups'​such as teenagers, children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers. These claims include "promoting lactation"​, "promoting / improving growth"​, and "improving oily skin".

Another part of the review is to formally do away with health claims that are no longer accepted by the regulator. There are at least 18 such claims, including "preventing tooth decay" and "reducing wrinkles"​.

New nutrient claims: Thailand’s new function regulations set to drive market growth

Thailand is introducing a new health claim framework​ where the number of nutrient function claims will be expanded.

This is to align with changes that happened at the CODEX level along the years, simplify the current framework and in turn, boost the market development of health food. 

NutraIngredients-Asia​ learnt from industry expert, Dr Anadi Nitithamyong, VP for academic affairs of Food Science and Technology Association of Thailand (FoSTAT) that the new guidelines for nutrient function claims were finalised and were pending to be gazetted.

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