Regulatory review: A closer look into Japan's FFC, South Korea's GM foods, and China's new function claims system

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

 A closer look into Japan's FFC, South Korea's GM foods, and China's new function claims system

Related tags FFC Gm crops AYUSH

In our monthly nutra regulatory round-up, we take a closer look at Japan’s Foods with Function Claims framework, South Korea’s new public consultation on genetically modified soybean, China’s new function claims system and more.
Can Japan’s Foods with Function Claims keep up with demand for more science and ethical advertising?

Japan’s vibrant Foods with Function Claims (FFC) sector will need to keep up with the demand for rigorous scientific evidence and ethical advertising for it to continue its phenomenal market growth, say experts from the country’s health foods associations.

Although FFC has grown rapidly, the system, introduced in 2015, has also met its fair share of criticisms over the years.

Some are sceptical of the science and efficacy of FFC products, some see it as a marketing stunt to boost the health and functional food industry.

GM foods in South Korea: Government calls for ‘scientific input only’ in new public consultation for three food items​  

The South Korean government has opened three food safety reports on genetically modified (GM) soybean, corn and canola for public comment, with the caveat that all opinions submitted must be ‘based on science and logic’ or risk being ignored.

The application for the GM soybean and GM canola variants were made by Monsanto Korea and developed by Bayer Crop Science, and the GM corn by BASF Korea. All three variants have received food safety approvals in varying markets such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the EU.

In the South Korea, GM foods and agricultural crops have yet to see acceptance despite extensive research on many items from rice to peppers to lettuce, likely due to ongoing consumer pushback.

Costs saving: Licensed food products could be made in AYUSH-approved facilities – Indian government​  

A facility approved for manufacturing traditional Indian medicine, specifically Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani (ASU) could also be used to manufacture licensed food products as well, the Indian authorities said in an attempt to clarify an ambiguity that has confused the industry for years.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Pradip Chakraborty, former director at FSSAI, said that the announcement from AYUSH was not pertaining to new rules but a clarification on existing rules.

The arrangement will help companies cut cost since separate facilities are not required for manufacturing products licensed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and ASU products, according to Chakraborty.

Stricter labelling plan: Taiwan doubles down on prepackaged food nutritional claims​  

Taiwanese authorities are doubling down in efforts to restrict nutritional labelling claims on prepackaged foods.

For instance, claims such as ‘higher in’ or ‘richer in’ certain nutrients when it comes to the declaration of nutritional facts for certain foods and beverages are prohibited, according to the Taiwan FDA.

The major overhaul of local nutritional labelling regulations stems from an aim to ensure accurate phrasing and vocabulary on product labels, in hopes of disallowing the usage of “hidden or implied messaging that a product has nutritional or caloric benefits that it does not in fact possess”.

Major opportunity: China set to approve new function claims for health foods, BYHEALTH first to submit application

China’s health foods regulator is set to approve new function claims, after introducing a list of technical guidelines to help companies and individuals make their submissions.

China’s State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) announced a list of technical guidelines for health foods making new functional claims, known as “保健食品新功能及产品技术评价实施细则” in Chinese.​ 

The pilot program, effective from August 28, allows companies to make new function claims outside of the existing list of 24 approved claims, but their applications must first be approved by the SAMR.

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