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China Further Regulates Baby Formula Labels

According to a circular recently released by the General Office of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), the authority will take action shortly to inspect the marks and function claims in the labels of baby formula milk powder products in a bid to ensure the quality and safety of such commodities through more rigorous supervision and regulation.

During recent regular checks by local food and drug supervisory departments, many baby milk powder products available on the market were found to be carrying marks and labels which are non-compliant with or in breach of the law in various aspects, including product name, label information, product content and function claims. In view of the prevalence of such irregularities, the CFDA decided to launch a probe into the issue.

As mentioned in the circular, baby formula milk powder producers are required to scrutinise the marks and labels on their products in accordance with relevant regulations and national food safety standards, with special attention to the following areas:    

(1)  Product name. It should be shown in a truthful and accurate manner, and must not mislead consumers with discrepancies in font size or colour;

(2)  Origin of raw and auxiliary materials. The use of ambiguous expressions, such as “imported milk source”, “originating from foreign farms” and “originating from ecological farms”, is prohibited;

(3)  Ingredient list and nutrition facts table. They should be displayed in a manner as stipulated in national food safety standard GB 13432-2013 and other relevant requirements;

(4)  Label information. Product labels should contain all information required, including the food production permit number;

(5)  Content claims. For substances not supposed to be used in the product formula  under applicable food safety standards, producers must not emphasise their absence with wordings like “no additives”, “does not contain XXX” etc in the labels;  

(6)  Function claims. The producer must not state or suggest in the label that the product is beneficial to intellectual development, can boost the immune system or protect the digestive system;

(7)  Product labels should not contain exaggerated, misleading or unverified information. Producers must not use expressions like “close to mother’s milk”, “close to breast milk” etc in such labels.

Meanwhile, baby formula business operators should have a system in place to keep the inspection records of the inbound goods. They are required to examine the marks and labels on these products, ensure that the packaging is intact, and store the products in accordance with food safety assurance requirements. Infant milk powder products imported for sale on the Chinese mainland should be attached with labels and instructions in Chinese which conform to the requirements of national food safety standards and applicable laws and regulations. In addition, these labels and instructions should indicate the place of origin of the product, as well as the name, address and contact information of the domestic agent.

The circular (Shi Yao Jian Ban Shi Jian Yi [2016] No.168) came into force on 7 December 2016.  Please click the following link to view the related Q&As (Chinese only): http://www.sda.gov.cn/WS01/CL1786/167256.html

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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