By Benjamin Cost
Rarely do we see a positive story in the stream of food safety headlines in China. Fortunately, some new regulations regarding allergens will be put on the books this spring. Food authorities will soon require prepackaged food producers to list all potential allergy-inducing ingredients on their product labels.
China Daily reports:
Starting in April, all manufacturers of prepackaged food will have to clarify substances that can cause allergies, according to a national regulation for food labels.
The new standard will be compulsory nationwide, and is the first time that the country has included allergens in food safety regulations, according to Fan Yongxiang, an official with the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Approximately 1 to 2 percent of adults and around 5 percent of infants and young children in the country suffer from food allergies, according to Sun Jianqin, director of the nutrition department at Shanghai-based Huadong Hospital affiliated to Fudan University.
China does not have statistics to show how life threatening food allergies are, but figures from the United States government revealed that each year roughly 30,000 individuals require emergency treatment, and 150 individuals die because of allergic reactions to food.
So what does this cover? Well, if they implement the same rules as they did with the Allergen Labeling Act of 2006 in America (and we’re not saying they will), it will encompass
any ingredients that contain protein derived from any of the eight major allergenic foods and food groups: milk, eggs, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans. These eight foods and food groups account for 90 percent of all food allergies.
It’s nice to see a step in the right direction for food safety infrastructure in China.
Read more on China’s food scandals here.