Country of Origin Labels in Japan

This is a topic I happen to care a lot about, especially after the US lost a case with the WTO, ruling that its COOL legislation went against its NAFTA obligations with Canada and Mexico.  The EU has the same rules, so how WTO could ignore the global attempts to provide consumers with this kind of information is mind-boggling. These WTO rules are called "Technical Barriers to Trade" (TBT) meaning they are not sanitary rules, which involve all kinds of barriers countries may wish to put up to stay unhealthy food out.

And, yup, note that processing companies (meaning they import a lot or all of their ingredients, or even entire packaged foods) are not happy with this.

From JA Agri-News:

Consumer Affairs Agency and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries jointly set up a panel to consider how to expand a list of processed food items to be covered by the mandatory labelling system of origin of ingredient. At the first meeting of the panel held on Jan. 29, people of organizations, representing food producers, distributers and consumers, exchanged views and agreed to put together a proposal by this autumn for increasing items to be covered by the labelling system.
The mandatory labelling rules of the Government are now applied to all fresh foods and some processed ones. The processed foods are made up of 22 groups of food items, including dried mushrooms, rice cakes and brown sugar, in addition to four items such as pickles and frozen vegetables.
The Government has taken a policy decision to consider expanding coverage of the mandatory system on the basis of a broad agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“We believe that it will be important for consumers to be provided with detailed information on origins of ingredients in processed foods. They require such information to select commodities which they want,” said Takeshi Kanai, managing director of JA-ZENCHU (Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives), representing interests of agricultural producers, at the first session of the panel.
On the other hand, a panelist of food manufacturing industries expressed a cautious view that processing companies are concerned about possible increases in cost and time by revisions of the mandatory labelling rules.
(Jan. 30, 2016)


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