Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) is currently discussing the creation of a new mandatory nutritional labeling system for all processed food products, with submission to the Diet planned in fiscal year 2012.
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Japan discusses establishing mandatory nutrition labeling in
FAIRS Country Report
Japan?s Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) is currently discussing the creation of a new mandatory
nutritional labeling system for all processed food products, with submission to the Diet planned in
fiscal year 2012. The required labeling will likely apply to imported processed foods also. Nutritional
components to be displayed in the labeling will be: energy, sodium, fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
Other details of the proposed labeling, such as inclusion of other components and format will continue
to be discussed by CAA.
On July 20, 2011, CAA completed a series of review meetings regarding a nutrition labeling system.
Originally, the purpose of the meetings was to discuss the addition of trans-fatty acid as a nutritional
component. However, a decision on trans-fatty acid was not reached because the Food Safety
Commission reported that Japanese average daily intake was 0.6 percent of total energy, well below
the WHO recommendation of one percent or less. Instead adding trans-fatty acid, on August 23, 2011,
CAA produced a final report recommending the establishment of a mandatory nutrition labeling
system for processed foods, with implementation proposed in 2012. Members of the review meeting
concluded that mandatory labeling could explain nutritional aspects of food in order to improve of
public health. According to a November 2010 CAA survey, 82 percent of processed food products have
nutrition labeling on a package which is currently voluntary in Japan. However, products which have
a nutrient declaration, nutrient content claim, and/or nutrient function claim, are required to feature
labeling in accordance with Nutrition Labeling Standards under the Health Promotion Act. The below
website explains the current nutrition labeling system.
Nutrition Labeling Systems in Japan (English)
According to the August 2011 CAA report, the order of the nutritional components to show in the
labeling will be: energy, sodium, fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Energy remains the first component
to show on a label. Sodium labeling will appear second due to concerns about the Japanese average
daily intake of sodium, which exceeds both the world average and the WHO recommended amount. In
response to these concerns, the Japanese Society of Hypertension has requested CAA to display sodium
amounts, in addition to the amount of salt.
The current voluntary nutrition labeling does not require a fixed format, in order to allow
manufactures the ability to choose either information per serving, per pack, or per 100 grams. This
inconsistency makes the current nutrition label difficult to understand, and since its 2005
implementation, surveys show that a majority of men, especially younger men, do not pay attention to
the current nutrition labeling. The August 2011 report recommends that CAA will need to create for
easy-to-follow format for the new system.
The August 2011 CAA report also states that Japan?s new nutrition labeling system should be
mandatory for all processed foods. Although, the report does not mention requirements for imported
foods, with the issue to be discussed further in future meetings, Post believes that it is likely that there
will be required labeling, in Japanese, for imported products.
The nutrition labeling system of the United States is regulated by Nutrition Labeling and Education
Act, implemented in 1991, and becoming mandatory in 1994. Current U.S. labeling requirements
include; Nutrition facts, basic per-serving nutritional information, serving size, number of servings per
container, and the relationship between one serving size as a percentage of daily value. In comparison,
U.S. requirements are more numerous than Japanese requirements. However, the August CAA report
did not explain whether producers will be able to use existing U.S. required data to compose
nutritional labels for products to be sold in Japan. Currently, importers are able to reuse data from
nutrition labels of original U.S. packaging for Japanese nutritional labeling and Post believes that this
customary practice will likely continue to avoid confusion.
In terms of next steps, CAA established a labeling law study group on September 30, 2011, which will
discuss how the new labeling law will consolidate three other existing labeling laws; the JAS and Food
Sanitation Laws and the Health Promotion Act. This group plans to conclude discussions on the new
nutrition label by June 2012. This will be then followed by a comment period before submission to the
Diet for final approval. Currently, submission for Diet approval is set at the end of the 2012 Japanese
Fiscal Year (March 2013).
Post will continue to observe the discussion and will update when situation develops.