Regulatory review: China infant food safety, GMP in South Korea in the spotlight

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

See the recent regulatory development in the health and nutrition industry in APAC.  © Getty Images
See the recent regulatory development in the health and nutrition industry in APAC. © Getty Images

Related tags China South korea regulations

In this round-up, we look at the recent regulatory development in the health and nutrition industry in APAC, including the Chinese authorities’ drafted plans for changing the current infant food safety standards.
China infant food standards: Authorities seek public consultation for new safety rules

The Chinese authorities are conducting a public consultation​ for the new food safety standards that it has drafted for a number of food items, including liquid infant formula, infant formula powder, and infant food.

According to one of the changes made to the food safety standard GB2762 (The maximum residue limit of contaminant in food), the maximum amount of lead residue permitted in liquid infant formula has been adjusted.

It will be decreased from 0.02mg/kg to 0.01mg/kg – one-eighth of the amount permitted in infant formula powder.

US-China trade deal: Industry observers remain conservative about potential infant formula benefits

The US-China trade deal has lowered trade barriers​ for the US in areas such as the infant formula sector, but industry observers remain conservative on the potential benefits, citing unanswered questions in how the deal would actually work and international competition as key concerns.

The two countries signed the first instalment​ of the deal mid last month, with the dairy industry featuring heavily.

Phase one of the deal would provide US farmers and dairy companies expanded access to China’s rapidly growing demand for imported dairy and infant formula products.

Six traditional Chinese medicinal herbs allowed for use as food spices but health claims denied 

The Chinese authorities allowed the use of six traditional Chinese medicinal herbs as food spices​, but manufacturers will not be allowed to attach any health claim under this process.

In an announcement​ made on Jan 6, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) listed the six herbs as danggui (Angelica sinensis​), Shannai (Kaempferia galanga​ L.), xi hong hua (Crocus sativus​ L.), cai guo (Amomum tsao-ko​), turmeric, and biba (Piper longum​ L.). 

When manufactured as a general food, the product label, indication, advertisement, and promotion content for the herb must adhere to the Food Safety Laws. 

New standards: GMP and traceability system mandatory for functional health foods in South Korea

South Korea has introduced new regulations for functional health foods​, including the need for manufacturers to adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

Starting from this month, a new piece of policy will be enacted almost every month all the way through to December.

A total of nine new policies pertaining to food and health foods was announced by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) just before the end of last year.  

Only five batches of formula products fail to meet China inspections…and all are imports

Over 99.7% of the infant formula sold in China have passed sampling inspection as of December last year. But surprisingly, some of those made in Australia and New Zealand were among those which failed to meet the cut.

Chen Shazhou, the deputy director at China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) food inspection unit, announced the figure during an annual dairy product quality meeting held in Beijing on January 11.

He said that as of Dec 13 last year, the unit had completed sampling inspection on 2,358 batches of infant formula products. Of these, five batches did not pass the inspection criteria.

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