Guide navigates Asian regulations

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Southeast asia

A new guide for manufacturers of supplements and functional foods
sets out the regulatory framework in Asia, with the aim of helping
western firms bring their products to market in the region.

Prepared by nutrition consultancy EAS and due to be published next month, the guide provides an analysis of national rules relating to supplements and fortified foods in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Brunei. The guide, which was developed by scientific and regulatory experts at EAS, gives an explanation of the current regulatory environment in Asia, including labeling, claims and novel food requirements. Areas it covers include the regulatory framework relating to herbs and other functional ingredients, health claims, and the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods and supplements. It also provides an overview of the health harmonization process within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and insight into the activities of Codex Alimentarius. EAS said it will "help nutritional product manufacturers navigate Asia's regulatory maze and to support the development of new product strategies."Market growth ​ According to Wei Wen Lim, EAS senior adviser, the guide comes at a a time of strong growth in the Asian market for supplements and functional foods. "Our research has shown that the functional food markets in the US, Western Europe and the Asia Pacific was estimated to be worth more than $ 70 billion dollars in 2007 with an expected annual growth rate of around five and a half percent - and forty percent of this market is from the Asia Pacific region,"​ said Lim. Indeed, according to information presented earlier this year at the Supply Side East trade show in Secaucus, New Jersey, Asia Pacific is the largest global market for nutraceutical products, by far exceeding that of North America and Europe. Capsugel's global business development manager for dietary supplements Peter Zambetti told attendees that the region accounted for 44 percent of global nutraceutical sales in 2006, compared to 32 percent for North America and 14 percent for Western Europe. Regulatory seminar ​ Last month, EAS held a seminar in Singapore, where it highlighted legislative change in the region. The conference discussed the health and nutrition claim regulatory set-ups in some Asian countries as well as the EU and the US, and noted their usefulness as regulatory guides along with principles of the international food regulations arm of the World Health Organization, Codex Alimentarius. There is momentum in harmonize health claims​ and other regulations across the ten countries that form the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN​), to promote trade, reduce production costs and educate consumers, in a project similar to that of the European Union. These countries include Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. There are about 500m people within ASEAN's 10 member states. The food supplements market there is worth about €1bn and is growing at about 10 per cent annually. Other ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Singapore. Probiotics in Asia ​In April this year, the Asian regulatory environment for probiotic products was examined at the International Probiotics Association (IPA) World Congress. According to a presentation given at the congress, there is little regulatory harmonization between countries within the Asia Pacific. While regulatory claim structures are similar in that they recognize basic health claim principles such as structure/function, risk reduction and disease reduction, a singular approach to the way in which probiotic health claims does not exist. For instance, Indonesia and Singapore have health claim regimes in place whereas many Asian countries do not.

Related topics: Regulation

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