【News】 Japanese government to introduce “positive list” system for food-contact materials in 2018 (May 7, 2017)

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) decided to adopt a new “positive list” system for food-contact materials in order to impose restriction on substances that may be used in raw materials of food containers and packaging materials such as cooking utensils and lunch boxes contacting directly with foods.

The existing “negative list” system that bans uses of certain substances for food packaging materials is not regulating uses of materials except these substances.

MHLW plans to replace the “negative list” system with the “positive list” system by revising the Food Sanitation Law in 2018.

The revision of the Law aims at reducing risk that hazardous substances are mixed into foods through food-contacting materials, by putting restrictions on substances of synthetic resin.

The new “positive list” system will be worked out so that it will be consistent with standards of other countries’ rules for the purpose of effectively coping with increased imports of food items.

MHLW does not expect that the revision of the Law will have a great influence on related industries in the country, because various trade associations of those industries have already adopted their voluntary “positive list” systems.

Under the revised Law, however, all the companies handling foods will be required to check the safety of respective food-contact materials according to the “positive list.”

Food-related industries are developed in a wide range of areas, including agricultural cooperatives and farmers shipping their products to farmers’ markets.

It will be a challenge for MHLW to make all the related people well informed about a shift from the “negative list” system to the “positive list” system.

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