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Labelling of processed foods and food additives

Food labelling system in Japan

Food labelling provides important information that is vital to allow consumers to properly acknowledge the food contents, and purchase and use the food. In the case that a food-related incident occurs, the food labelling can help us to swiftly and accurately find the cause and recall the products.

Labelling of processed foods

Processed foods are processed and packaged food products, such as frozen food, tea, confectionery, milk, and fish-paste products.

An example of food labelling in Japan:

Table3

※Additional items required to be indicated by each food category are shown on the label.

Labelling of food additives

 Definition of food additives

 The Food Hygiene Law specifies that food additives are substances added or mixed in to process and/or preserve food during the manufacturing process.

Types of food additives

There are four types of food additives in Japan.

  (1) Designated Additives  

      Designated additives are those designated by the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare as safe and effective substances that are unlikely to harm human health.

    List of designated additives (Website of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)

  (2) Existing food additives 

      Those substances are widely used and have a long history of consumption by humans in Japan.

    List of existing food additives (Website of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)

  (3) Natural flavoring agents 

      These substances are natural products that are obtained from animals and plants and used for flavoring food.

    List of Natural flavoring agents (Website of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)

 (4) Ordinary foods used as food additives

      Those substances are generally provided for eating or drinking as food and also used as food additives (e.g., strawberry juice and agar). 

    List of substances generally provided for eating or drinking as food and also used as food additives (Website of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)

Labelling of food additives  

In principle, the names of substances added to the food are indicated on the label in Japan. Some substances also show the purpose of its use and effectiveness. In other cases, all the substance names are displayed together in a grouped labelling. 

Use of food additives: translation table for names in a grouped labelling(PDF:58KB)

Example in Japanese

table4

Example in English

 table5

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