September 29, 2022

Volume XII, Number 272


September 29, 2022

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China Publishes Draft Standards for Food Additives

On September 8, 2022, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) published on its website 18 draft National Food Safety Standards (GB standards) in relation to food additives for public comment.[1] These include the following Standards:


Standard Name


Food Additive N-[N-[3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl) propyl]-L-α-aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine 1-methyl ester


Food Additive 5-Phenyl-3H-furan-2-one


Food Additive Quillaia extract


Food Additive Iron tartrate


Food Additive Sodium formate


Food Additive Theaflavins


General rules for the use of food additives (GB2760)


Food Additive Enzyme preparation for food industrial use


Food Additive Methyl cellulose


Food Additive Lactitol


Food Additive Pentaerythritol ester of wood rosin


Food Additive Morpholine fatty acid salt (fruit wax)


Food Additive Quinoline yellow


Food Additive Calcium hydroxide


Food Additive Cellulose


Amendment No. 1 of GB 1886.100-2015 Food Additive Disodium ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetate 


Amendment No. 1 of GB 29209-2012 Food Additive Sodium sulfate


Amendment No. 1 of GB 1886.43-2015 Food Additive Calcium ascorbate

Other than GB2760, which is a national standard in China to provide the requirements for the use of food additives, the remaining standards are the ones that address the technical specifications of the food additives. Specifically, NHC proposes to create mandatory standards for food additives, including N-[N-[3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl) propyl]-L-α-aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine 1-methyl ester, 5-Phenyl-3H-furan-2-one, quillaia extract, iron tartrate, sodium formate, and theaflavins, which detail requirements on raw materials, sensory test, as well as physiochemical specifications. Accordingly, food additives sold in China must comply with such requirements once these standards are finalized.

Moreover, the draft standard, i.e., Food Additive Enzyme Preparation for Food Industrial Use, will replace existing GB standards on food enzymes (GB 1886.174-2016).[2] Compared with GB 1886.174-2016, the draft includes terms and definitions of “excipients for food enzyme use” and “enzyme immobilization,” and establishes a list of excipients permitted for use in food enzymes, under which 97 substances (e.g., citric acid, lactic acid) can be used as excipients for enzyme preparations.

For the national standard for food additives -- GB2760, the following major changes are proposed in the draft amendment:

  • It removes:

  1. β-carotene and diacetyl tartaric acid mono- and di-glycerides as permitted food additives in distilled spirits; and 

  2. Azocarboxamide for use in wheat flour.

  • It also adds a new warning requirement for food using excessive polyol(s) in its production that may cause diarrhea. However, the specific use level of polyol(s) that could trigger the additional labeling obligation is not yet specified in the draft standard. That is to say, if the use level of polyols in the finished food remains low, special on-pack warnings may not be required. As of now, NHC has not revealed the language that shall be used for the warning. It is expected that further details will be made available in subsequent guidance documents. 

All stakeholders that wish to comment on the draft food additive standards shall submit their suggestions to NHC by October 10, 2022.

© 2022 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 265

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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Jenny Li, Keller Heckman, China Food, Drug Regulation, Shanghai, International Trade
Legal Consultant

Jenny Li joined Keller and Heckman in October 2007.

Ms. Li counsels clients on regulatory issues focusing on food and drug, with an emphasis on regulatory regimes in the Asia-Pacific region. She also counsels clients on food labeling, food claims, food additives, as well as, important issues regarding food imports in Asian countries.

Yin Dai, Keller Heckman, Multi national Food Companies Regulation, Paralegal, Shanghai, China,

Yin Dai joined Keller and Heckman in 2013.  She is a paralegal in the food and drug practice area. She monitors developments impacting the regulations of food, food packaging, drugs and medical devices throughout Asia.  Ms. Dai assists multi-national food and chemical companies in product stewardship and compliance matters, especially in China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and other ASEAN countries.  She also participates in the clearance for new food related materials in China and other Asian countries.

Prior to joining Keller and Heckman, Ms. Dai...

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