A new regulation on "novel foods" will come into force on December
1, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday on its website.
supersede a ruling on such products introduced in 1990 and a regulation on
genetically modified foods, which some experts had warned failed to sufficiently
protect the health of consumers.
The new regulation applies to companies
and individuals involved in the production and trade of novel
These are defined as food ingredients, which meet the basic
criteria of food but do not have a significant history of consumption in
Novel foods have to undergo a series of strict procedures before
the MOH will allow them onto the market, the regulation said.
fall broadly into four categories: Animals, plants, and microorganisms that are
not often consumed in China; seldom-used food ingredients aside from animals,
plants, and microorganisms; newly discovered microorganisms applied during food
processing; and food ingredients whose structure has been modified by new
techniques, the regulation said.
Given the fact that novel foods are
usually just ingredients in ready-to-consume products, the public is seldom
aware of what it is eating, Zhang Jian, a researcher with national institute of
nutrition and food safety affiliated to the Chinese Center for Disease Control
and Prevention, told China Daily.
For instance, not many people
would know that sugar-free chewing gum gets its sweetness from Isomalt
Isomalt is a solution used in sugar-free and low-sugar products
such as boiled sweets, chewing gum and chocolates.
"The market for novel
foods in China is still largely untapped, but it will surely grow as wealthy
Chinese develop a taste for healthier foods, such as sugar-free products," Zhang
The regulation said the government encouraged the scientific
research and development of novel foods as it wanted to add greater variety to
Currently, there are some 340 novel foods in the market, but
these might have to be reviewed to comply with the new rules, the ministry
To further drive the novel food industry, the regulation does away
with complex approval procedures, while tightening food safety
Health authorities will be required to conduct spot checks on
producers and track the quality and safety of novel products, the ministry
Companies that overstate the medical efficacy of novel foods will
be punished, it said.
(China Daily 07/19/2007 page
1. What are the four broad categories of food that will have to undergo
strict procedures before being allowed into the market?
2. What is Isomalt typically used in?
3. What could happen to the 340 novel foods that are currently on the
1. Animals, plants and microorganisms that are
not often consumed in china; seldom-used food ingredients aside from animals,
plants, and microorganisms; newly discovered microorganisms applied during
food processing; and food ingredients whose structure has been modified by
2. Suger-free and low-sugar products such as boiled
sweets, chewing gum and chocolates.
3. They might have to be reviewed to comply with the new rules.
About the broadcaster:
Suzann Riddle is a senior double majoring in Health Care
Management and Economics at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. She finds
herself at China Daily Website after visiting many areas of China as a Holland
Fellow, Appalachian's international exchange program with Fudan University.