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China's NHFPC Publishes Approvals for 23 Food Packaging Materials: National Health and Family Planning Commission

On June 8, 2016, China's National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) announced online that 23 food packaging materials had passed the safety evaluation review by the NHFPC expert panel.[1] Specifically, the announcement includes final clearances for the following:

  • 12 new food packaging additives (Table 1),

  • 5 expanded use clearances for food packaging additives (Table 2),

  • 6 new food-contact resins (Table 3)

These approvals will ultimately be incorporated into the relevant Food Safety Standards. Specifically, the additive approvals will be added to China's GB 9685 Standard for Uses of Additives in Food Containers and Packaging Materials.[2] Meanwhile, the new plastic resin approvals will be incorporated into the new Standard on Food-Contact Use Plastic Resins.[3] It is doubtful that these approvals will be adopted in the Standards currently under revision. In all likelihood, they will remain administrative approvals until the Standards are next amended in the coming years.[4] This is merely a clerical issue, as these administrative listings are final approvals that may be relied upon to lawfully market the referenced food-contact materials in China.

The June 8 announcement follows NHFPC's April 29, 2016 release of its first batch of final approvals in 2016,[5] which included the following:

  • 15 new food packaging additives (Table 1),

  • 2 expanded use clearances for food packaging additives (Table 2),

  • 6 new food-contact resins (Table 3)

Both sets of approvals took considerably longer than usual, and this is likely due to the fact that the Chinese authorities have been busy implementing the recently amended Food Safety Law,[6] and developing/amending key Food Safety Standards. Given the proximity between these recent announcements (April and June), it appears that the pace at which Chinese food-contact approvals are issued will revert back to the timeframe that we have seen prior to 2015. More specifically, after a draft clearance is published, it typically takes approximately 6 months for NHPFC to publish the corresponding final approval.


[1] See NHFPC Announcement No. 7, 2016, available here.

[2] The current draft amendment was published by the NHFPC on January 20, 2015.  See NHFPC Announcement No. 18, 2015, available here.

[3] The current draft Standard was published by the NHFPC on September 29, 2015.  See NHFPC Announcement No. 803, 2015, available here.

[4] Generally GB Standards are revised every 5 years.  However, depending on a given Standard's priority, such revisions may be more or less frequent.

[5] See NHFPC Announcement No. 5, 2016, available here.

[6] See "China Passes Sweeping Amendment to Food Safety Law: The Most Stringent To Date," available here.

© 2022 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 167
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About this Author

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

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
Partner

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...

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