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Regulations on nutritional composition and nutrition labelling of infant formula take effect today

The Government's new requirements on nutritional composition and nutrition labelling of infant formula come into operation today (December 13).

The newly amended Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulation (Amendment Regulation) regulates the nutritional composition of infant formula and mandates the nutrition labelling of infant formula, follow-up formula and prepackaged food for infants and young children under the age of 36 months, so as to protect the health of infants and young children who consume the products, assist parents in making informed food choices, and encourage food manufacturers to apply sound nutrition principles in the formulation of formula products and foods for infants and young children.

A spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) said, "The Amendment Regulation was gazetted in June last year and the Legislative Council completed the vetting in October of the same year. To allow sufficient time for the trade to prepare for the commencement of the Amendment Regulation, the Government has provided a grace period of 18 months for infant formula. The new requirements related to infant formula under the Amendment Regulation takes effect today. On the other hand, the requirements on nutrition labelling of follow-up formula and prepackaged food for infants and young children will come into operation on June 13, 2016 after a grace period of two years."

The Amendment Regulation mandates that infant formula must contain energy and 33 nutrients (1+33) in accordance with the standards from the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The level of energy and each nutrient must fall within the range specified in the Amendment Regulation and certain nutrients must also follow the relevant proportion requirements. Regarding nutrition labelling, the Amendment Regulation mandates the labelling of energy value and contents of 29 nutrients (1+29) for infant formula.

In addition to the 33 nutrients, the Amendment Regulation requires infant formula composed of taurine and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to follow relevant standards in terms of maximum value and proportion respectively. Furthermore, since an excessive intake of fluoride may increase the risk of dental fluorosis, the Amendment Regulation requires infant formula to be labelled with a statement associated with dental fluorosis, if the fluoride content of the product exceeds the maximum level stipulated in the Amendment Regulation.

Formula for special medical purposes for infants and young children are exempted from the nutritional composition and nutrition labelling requirements, provided that such products are specifically labelled in accordance with the Amendment Regulation. In addition, the Amendment Regulation, modelling on the existing Nutrition Labelling Scheme, exempts infant formula with a small package size (packing in a container which has a total surface area of less than 250 square centimetres) from the nutrition labelling requirements.

"Anyone in breach of the Amendment Regulation following its implementation will be liable to a maximum fine of $50 000 and imprisonment for six months upon conviction," the spokesman said.

The spokesman noted that the CFS has conducted a series of technical meetings for the trade and other stakeholders to prepare for the commencement of the Amendment Regulation. The CFS has also prepared technical guidelines which cover relevant technical issues.

For details of the Amendment Regulation and relevant guidelines, please visit the CFS's website at www.cfs.gov.hk. For enquiries, please call the FEHD hotline: 2868 0000.

Ends/Sunday, December 13, 2015

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Last revision date: 14-12-2015