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Laws in China for Novel Food Ingredients

2018-09-17 10:03 Monday

Novel food ingredients are defined as those ingredients that do not have a significant history of consumption or are produced by methods that have not previously been used for food in China.

Novel food ingredients fall under the scope of Food Safety Law and related legislation, and can’t pose any possible health risks to the human body.

Features of novel food ingredients:

1. Meat, vegetables or microbes without a history of consumption in China

2. Use of new microbes during food processing

3. Food ingredients that have been changed with new processing technologies.

The emergence of novel food ingredients in the China has created new complications for merchants, who should ensure that their products are in accordance with related food safety standards.

Below are some recent lawsuits involving novel food ingredients:

Missing Warning Labels

Mr. Hu bought two boxes of peppermint in the supermarket and found that the peppermint contained Aloe Vera Gel, a novel food ingredient. Mr. Hu accused the supermarket of missing daily consumption warning labels, a requirement based on China’s Food Safety Law.


The court found in favor of Mr. Hu, mandating a refund and compensation of 1000RMB to be paid by the supermarket. The Intermediate People's Court rejected the supermarket’s appeal and maintained the previous judgment.

According to Article 37 of the Food Safety Law, merchants are required to submit a novel food safety evaluation report to the Health Administrative Departments before launching new products.Aloe Vera Gel is listed in the novel food category, further requiring that the merchant provide a daily consumption warning label on the product packaging.

Cordyceps Did Not Mark the Unsuitable Crowd, Fined 10,000 Yuan

caterpillar fungus flowers

In another prominent case, a consumer bought a bag of soup stock containing caterpillar fungus flowers, and complained that the product contained no label  warning against unsuitable consumption. Ultimately, the authorities enforced a penalty of 10,000RMB and a 16 RMB refund on the soup stock producer.

Ginseng Products Are Not Marked As Unsuitable for People and Dosage

ginseng tea

Similarly, Mr. Lei purchased a dozen ginseng tea bags containing novel food ingredients at the cost of 948RMB and discovered that the  product lacked a relevant warning label.

The authorities mandated that the producer to rectify the problem within a designated time limit, and the court ruled in favor Mr. Lei’s demand for a tenfold refund.

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