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China Announces Final Draft Approvals for Food-Contact Substances Submitted Under the "Clean-up" Procedures

November 20, 2012

The Chinese Ministry of Health (MOH) published on its website, on November 16, 2012, the third and final batch of draft approvals for food packaging materials petitioned under the "clean-up" procedures. The "clean-up" procedures allowed manufacturers of unapproved food packaging materials to file petitions seeking an appropriate clearance. For example, many companies filed petitions to clear additives that were not the subject of an approval for their intended use under China's Hygienic Standard for Additives in Food Containers and Packaging Materials (GB 9685-2008). However, the "clean-up" procedures were not restricted to additives, as the Ministry also accepted petitions for new plastics, rubbers, etc. (For more information, see the following article on PackagingLaw.com: Regulation of Food Packaging Materials in the People's Republic of China.)

Over the past year, MOH has reviewed more than 3,000 petitions submitted under the "clean-up" procedures. In response, the Ministry has already issued final approvals for 107 resins and 301 additives intended for food-contact use in China. These approvals were consolidated from the first and second batches of draft approvals released in 2011. The third batch includes 261 additives, and these will be the last of the "clean-up" approvals for food-contact additives.

Comments on the third batch are due by December 12, 2012. Once the third batch is finalized, any food-contact substance not listed therein or otherwise approved in China will be unlawful and subject to enforcement action by China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIS) and its subsidiary units.