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“International standard” to be applied for food safety

  • 2016-01-13 15:00:00
  • , Yomiuri
  • Translation

(Yomiuri: January 13, 2016 – Top play)


 The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) has decided on a policy to gradually make it mandatory for companies involved in the food [industry] to introduce HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point), a global standard for food sanitation. An investigative commission composed of experts will meet as soon as next month to start to create a plan regarding the items to be subject to the HACCP requirement and the timing [of introduction], and Japan’s Food Sanitation Act and other legislation will be amended as soon as next year. Only 30% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Japan have introduced HACCP, but the MHLW decided that shifting to a food sanitation control regime that is internationally trusted is an urgent necessity for Japan to be able to make food safety a selling point with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics on the horizon.


 In stages, from next year


 HACCP was developed in the United States in the 1960s to ensure the safety of food used in space. The system is known for its thorough “checks” and “records” that ensure that food safety is not jeopardized due to heating temperatures being too low or foreign substances being added.


 Japan has “production standards” that stipulate the required temperatures and lengths of time of heating for meat and fisheries products. However, there is no method in place for checking that the standards are upheld. Confirmation of safety has depended on sampling inspections of some products by business operators as required under the Food Sanitation Act.


 According to a 2014 survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 87% of large businesses with food sales of 5 billion yen or more have introduced HACCP while only 34% of SMEs and 14% of microenterprises with less than 100 million yen in sales have introduced HACCP. From the 1990s, Western countries have been making HACCP mandatory for meat and fisheries products.


 It is forecast that imports and exports will increase as tariffs are lowered or removed when the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) comes into force. There is a chance that HACCP could become a barrier for Japan’s SMEs to increase their exports if they are required to have HACCP in place to export meat to the United States, Canada, and other countries. (Abridged)

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