November 27, 2022

Volume XII, Number 331


China Food and Drug Administration Measures on Foods for Special Medical Purposes Take Effect

The China Food and Drug Administration's (CFDA) Administrative Measures for Registration of Formulated Foods for Special Medical Purposes ("FSMP Measures") will enter into force on July 1, 2016.[1] The Measures define "foods for special medical purposes" (FSMP) to include food specially processed and prepared for people with eating restrictions, digestion and absorption disorders, metabolic disorders, or a particular disease to meet their special dietary or nutritional needs.[2] The Measures now require that domestic and overseas manufacturers intending to market FSMP in China register with CFDA. Domestic producers must file for registration before applying for their FSMP production permits.

By way of background, the 2015 amendment to China's Food Safety Law[3] designated FSMP as "special foods" subject to strict supervision and registration.[4] Whether a given product is regulated as an FSMP depends on a variety of factors, including product labeling and claims. Despite the existence of a number of National Standards relating to FSMP production and labeling, no registration and management framework for such products had been established.[5] Consistent with the Food Safety Law, the FSMP Measures now provide detailed registration guidance for FSMP producers and clarify CFDA's management and supervision rules.

The FSMP Measures primarily distinguish two primary classifications: (1) FSMP for infants between the ages of 0 and 12 months and (2) FSMP for people over one year of age. With regard to the latter, the Measures further define the following sub-categories:

  • Formulated foods with full nutrition (capable of serving as the sole nutrition source);

  • Formulated foods with special full nutrition (capable of serving as the sole nutrition source for a particular disease or medical condition); and

  • Formulated foods with partial nutrition (which only meet partial nutritional needs).

On April 15, CFDA published five supplementary documents detailing registration and management requirements for public comments.[6] These documents address the following aspects of the registration system:

  • Registration procedures and required application materials

  • Requirements for product stability studies

  • Requirements on clinical trials

  • Specifications for labeling and instructions for use

  • Checklist and decision criteria for field inspections of manufacturing sites

With regard to the clinical trial reports, these are only required for the registration of "FSMP with special full nutrition."[7] Clinical trials must be carried out in accordance with Quality Management Code for Clinical Test of Formulated Foods for Special Medical Purposes and conducted at medical institutes certified by CFDA.[8] In this regard, CFDA is expected to release both a quality management code and a list of qualified medical institutes. Notably, companies exporting FSMP products into China are subject to field inspections as well as sampling at overseas manufacturing facilities where deemed necessary.

Further guidelines may be released regarding the registration and management of FSMP products already on the market.

[1] See Administrative Measures for Registration of Formulated Foods for Special Medical Purposes, available at   

[2] See Article 48 of the FSMP Measures.

[3] See P.R.C. Food Safety Law, available in Chinese at

[4] See Food Safety Law Articles 74 and 80. Article 80 requires that FSMP be registered with CFDA and registration materials, including the product formulation and details relating to production process, product safety and clinical effects, be provided upon application.

[5] See, for example, GB25596-2010, GB 29922-2013, and GB 29923-2013.

[6] Available at ; the comment period has been closed on May 15, 2016.

[7] This term is defined in Article 50 of the FSMP Measures to include FSMP that are capable of serving as the sole nutrition source to meet the nutritional demands of a target population with a particular disease or under special medical conditions (e.g., FSMP for diabetes, respiratory diseases, protein allergies, etc.).

[8] See Articles 29 and 30 of the FSMP Measures.

© 2022 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 182

About this Author

David J. Ettinger, Keller Heckman, Partner, Food and Drug Corporation, International Trade Lawyer, Attorney, Shanghai, China

David Ettinger joined Keller and Heckman in 1999. Mr. Ettinger represents domestic and foreign corporations in the area of food and drug law.

Mr. Ettinger relocated to Keller and Heckman's Shanghai office in November 2012 to focus on the Asian market and counsel companies in the Far East on food, drug, and chemical regulatory matters. He has extensive experience counseling clients on product development and product protection of food and drug packaging in the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America. From 2006-2007, Mr. Ettinger...

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Mark Thompson Business & Trade Attorney Keller Heckman

Mark Thompson advises a wide array of businesses and trade associations on global compliance requirements applicable to finished foods, food additives, food packaging materials, cosmetics, industrial chemicals, and associated labeling in Asia, the U.S., and the European Union. Mr. Thompson also has significant experience relating to the regulation of drugs and genetically modified organisms (GMO) in Asia. From 2009 through 2016, Mr. Thompson was based in Keller and Heckman’s Shanghai Representative office. During that time, he assisted foreign and domestic companies in evaluating and...