China beverage rules change: Regulator SAMR proposes clearer distinctions for powdered / granule drinks

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

The China authorities have proposed new regulations to help consumers distinguish ‘solid beverages’ from infant formulas and FSMPs. © Getty Images
The China authorities have proposed new regulations to help consumers distinguish ‘solid beverages’ from infant formulas and FSMPs. © Getty Images

Related tags: China, Beverages, regulations

The China authorities have proposed a set of regulations to better distinguish so-called ‘solid beverages’ from infant formula and Food for Special Medical Purposes (FSMPs).

Solid beverages are in fact, powdered beverages, and are regulated as general foods in China.

The SAMR defines it as a form of general food prepared by processing raw food materials and food additives into powder, granules or lumps.

Under the proposed rules, manufacturers must print the term “solid beverage” near the product name on the product packaging to accurately reflect the nature of the product. On the same side of the packaging, they will also need to add in the statement “this product cannot replace FSMPs, infant formula, health foods and other special foods.” ​The statement should also make up no less than 20 per cent of that particular side of the packaging.

The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) announced the proposal and said it would be open for public consultation until July 14.

The proposal was meant to strengthen the safety and quality of solid beverages, protect consumer rights and public health, the SAMR explained.

It comes after several cases where solid beverages have been mistakenly purchased and consumed as infant formulas or FSMPs.

Last year, there were reports on​ infants and toddlers suffering from eczema and skull deformity after they fed on a protein solid beverage product named ‘Bei An Min’. The product claimed to be an ‘extensively hydrolysed protein and lactose-free formula powder.’

Since then, the SAMR had announced a clampdown on the selling of general foods as special foods and unlicensed production of special foods.

Solid beverages have been falsely advertised as infant formulas or FSMPs as they are similar in product appearance, said a regulatory analyst.

“Infant formulas and FSMPs boast huge profits, which is why companies [making solid beverages] have falsely advertised their products as such products.

“On why is it that solid beverages are frequently mistaken as infant formulas and FSMPs, I think it is because they have similar product form, and you will find that nearly all of them [solid beverages] are in the powder format,”​ Yilia Ye, Chemlinked senior regulatory analyst told NutraIngredients-Asia.

Other proposed guidelines

In the latest regulatory reform, the regulator also proposed that the labelling, instruction of use, and marketing materials for solid beverages should not consist of words or pictures to state, highlight, or hint that such products are suitable for minors, elderly, patients, or malnourished individuals.

In addition, there should be no mention or hints on how the production techniques and/or the raw materials used could prevent against or treat diseases, provide health benefits or satisfy specific nutrition needs of patients.

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