STC Number - 147

Regulation on food additives

Maintained by: Japan
Raised by: European Union
Supported by: United States of America
First date raised: November 2002 G/SPS/R/28, paras. 35-37
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 21 Miscellaneous edible preparations; 2106 Food preparations not elsewhere specified or included.
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Food safety; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

The European Communities indicated that a list of substances, including food additives, aromas, food ingredients and extract solvents, were not formally authorized by Japanese law, which could constitute barriers to food product exports to Japan. Some of the additives had already been authorized by Japan for other purposes. The European Communities requested Japan to approve those substances that had been evaluated by the European Communities on scientific grounds, and noted that all of the substances had been evaluated at the international level by the scientific committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The European Communities reported that a number of bilateral meetings had already taken place. The United States shared the concerns expressed by the European Communities and urged Japan to consider expedited approval for these food additives that were commonly used and considered safe.
Japan stated that it had recently enacted a new policy for evaluating the safety and the necessity of the use of food additives and for authorizing their use. Japanese authorities were putting together a list of food additives that were considered safe and necessary to use for certain foods. The use of food additives varied from country to country depending upon customs and habits, and a number of food additives authorized by the European Communities were not authorized in Japan and vice versa. Japan suggested further bilateral consultations on this issue.
In January 2005, Japan reported that food additives, including flavouring agents were permitted to be used only when designated by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare under the Food Sanitation Law as substances that were unlikely to cause a health hazard. With regards to the use of unauthorized food additives, an application must be filed with the Minister.
Furthermore, since 2002, Japan had given priority to certain food additives for authorization, including those proposed by the European Communities and that were also proven safe by the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives. The Minister had taken the necessary procedures to hear the opinions of the Food Safety Commission (FSC) on 29 additives, including 9 flavouring agents, for which full documentation had been prepared. Of the 29 substances, 4 additives (including 3 flavouring agents) were designated as authorized food additives in December 2004. This information was provided to the European Communities at the Japan-EU Regulatory Reform Dialogue and at other opportunities. In order to expedite and facilitate Japanese evaluations of the substances, the European Communities were requested to provide the documentation and literature supporting EC scientific evaluation of the substances.