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China Food Packaging: Year in Review 2014

February 19, 2015

As we celebrate Chinese New Year and prepare to enter the Year of the Goat, we thought this would be a good time to look back and summarize the Chinese regulatory developments and procedures applicable to food packaging that have taken place over the past year. Keller and Heckman LLP continues to work closely with China's National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), as well as the Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA), to press for the modernization of Chinese food-contact regulations. The Chinese authorities continue to work diligently in issuing approvals under the Management Rules for the Administrative Approval of New Varieties of Food Related Products.[1] In 2014, Keller and Heckman's Shanghai Representative Office filed many petitions for food-contact materials under the Management Rules,[2] which has enabled us to closely monitor the developments related to China's food-contact system. We now turn to summarizing the food-contact developments that took place in the past year.

Food Safety Law Revision

The Chinese authorities are currently revising the Food Safety Law. The Draft introduces a number of new requirements applicable to food-related products (e.g., food packaging). Our November 2014 memo to interested clients details many of these changes, but more recent updates have since been issued.[3] The draft Law was reviewed by China's National People's Congress (NPC) the week of December 21, 2014, and we anticipate the final publication of the Food Safety Law to be in early to mid-2015.

GB 9685 Standard Revision

On January 20, 2015, NHFPC announced for public comment a draft amendment to China's Hygienic Standard on the Uses of Additives in Food Containers and Packaging Materials (GB 9685). The amended GB 9685 Standard has adopted a number of new provisions and principles. For example, among other changes, the revised Standard now permits the use of certain direct food additives (i.e., those listed in GB 2760 Table A.2). In addition, the draft amendment would permit the use of the sodium, potassium, and calcium salts of GB 9685-listed acids, alcohols and phenols. Comments on the draft Standard will be accepted by the authority until March 15, 2015.

We are preparing a full English translation of the Standard, which will be adjusted to note any changes incorporated since the last iteration. The GB 9685 Standard should be finalized within the next year.

Development of "Consumption Factors" for China

Keller and Heckman continues to cooperate with CFSA to develop consumption factors for food packaging in China. This is a continuation of the work that Keller and Heckman has carried out over the last few years to incorporate dietary exposure into safety evaluations for food-contact materials marketed in China. As an initial step toward developing these consumption factors, CFSA is currently surveying industry members that supply PVC for use in food packaging in China.

Other Food Safety Standards Relevant to Food Packaging in China

Aside from GB 9685, the Chinese authorities continue to revise and establish a number of other Food Safety Standards relevant to food packaging. Given the myriad of food packaging Standards in China, China is consolidating many into the following Standards:

  • Resins Used in Food Equipment and Packaging Materials
  • Plastic Articles Used in Food Equipment and Packaging Materials
  • Rubber Articles Used in Food Equipment and Packaging Materials
  • Coatings and Coating Layers Used in Food Equipment and Packaging Materials
  • Adhesives used in Food Containers and Packaging Materials
  • Metal Products Used in Food Containers and Packaging Materials
  • Paper Products Used in Food Equipment and Packaging Materials

Members of Keller and Heckman's Shanghai Representative Office have been invited to participate in the Chinese working groups charged with developing the Coatings Standard and Paper Standard. We understand that the Coatings Standard will include a list of permitted monomers permitted for use in the manufacture of food-contact coatings, and Keller and Heckman is working with the authorities to compile a list of monomers permitted under existing Chinese Standards to support their inclusion. Work on the Paper Standard has recently begun, but details on the content of the forthcoming Standard have not yet been made available. We also understand that the Chinese authorities intend to begin work on a Standard on printing inks used in the manufacture of food packaging in China.

In addition, China has published a number of other Standards relating to food-contact materials. For example, the authorities published the following draft testing methods for food packaging:

  • Determination of cadmium migration in food contact materials and articles
  • Determination of chromium migration in food contact materials and articles
  • Determination of nickel migration in food contact materials and articles
  • Determination of lead migration in food contact materials and articles
  • Determination of arsenic migration in food contact materials and articles
  • Determination of antimony migration in food contact materials and articles
  • Determination of zinc migration in food contact materials and articles

Various other food packaging Standards have been published by the authorities over the past year.

 
FOOTNOTES

[1] See http://www.nhfpc.gov.cn/zhuzhan/zqyj/201408/f413962097674953ba08e8662dc2015d.shtml and http://www.moh.gov.cn/sps/s3585/201407/f3b7d6d3ade74f80b48cf7450ec37a65.shtml,http://www.nhfpc.gov.cn/sps/s7890/201407/d3aefea7488f4c4f92ffca1a0b7d59e0.shtml.

[2] An article briefly summarizing the data requirements and overall process is available on our website at http://www.packaginglaw.com/3163_.shtml.

[3] Copies of this memorandum are available upon request. The draft, the drafting notes, and comparisons between the draft and the currently effective Food Safety Law are available in Chinese at:http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/xinwen/lfgz/flca/2014-06/30/content_1869695.htm.