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August 06, 2020

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Chinese Food Industry Proposes the First Group Standard for Plant-Based Meat

  • On June 24, 2020 the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) published a draft group standard for plant based meat products and will be soliciting comments until July 25, 2020.  While the standard is merely a guidance document for industry, it is the first standard in China that is specific to the plant-based category.  CIFST’s draft standard provides extensive requirements for plant-based meat, including:

    • Definition of Plant-Based Meat Products;

    • Product Classification;

    • Basic Content Requirements (e.g., no animal-derived protein; fat is permitted; and non-plant ingredients (other than water and salt) should be no more than 10% of the product formulation); and

    • Technical Specifications (e.g., sensory requirements, physical and chemical parameters, contaminants, microbial limits, use of food additives, and product labeling).

  • Notably, CIFST’s draft standard explicitly supports the use of qualifying terms such as “plant-based,” “plant protein,” “non-animal source,” to describe plant-based meat.  Further, the terms “sausage,” “beef,” “meat ball,” “hamburger,” and “bacon,” etc., which traditionally refer to animal source products, are also permitted, so long as the product name clearly indicates its true nature, i.e., that the product is plant-based.

  • By way of background, in November 2019, the food authority in China — State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) — issued the draft amendments of its food labeling regulations.  SAMR’s draft regulations mandate that terms, like “artificial,” “imitated,” or “veggie” be added to a product name when the product’s plant raw ingredients serve to give the food characteristics that imitate organs and tissues of other organisms.

  • Although SAMR’s labeling regulations have not been finalized, SAMR’s regulations will trump the CIFST’s draft standard, as SAMR’s regulation is legally binding to all food sold in China.  We will continue to monitor the regulatory developments pertaining to plant-based foods.

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 184

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Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...

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