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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 April 24 - May 7  > Gov’t approves banned food additives in anticipation of TPP
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2013 April 24 - May 7 [ECONOMY]

Gov’t approves banned food additives in anticipation of TPP

April 26, 2013
The health ministry has recently expressed an official opinion which virtually approves the distribution of imported foods containing currently illegal additives. Concerned citizens see this as a move by the government to implement a stopgap measure in advance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement requiring member states to lift tariffs without exceptions and eliminate such non-tariff barriers as food safety standards.

For example, Japan excludes peracetic acid from designated food additives, but the United States, Canada, and Australia use it as a sterilizing agent for vegetables, fruits, and meat.

Article 10 of the Japanese Food Sanitation Act prohibits the distribution of unauthorized additives and products added with these substances. If a violation is found, authorities under Article 54 of the Act should dispose of the item or should remove harmful ingredients from the item if possible.

The health ministry said that it will endorse imported foods containing the peracetic acid which is currently illegal and will promptly add the acid to approved food additives on the grounds that it has been widely used abroad.

Ogura Masayuki, an expert in food safety, said, “The government is taking this measure as a pre-step in advance of the TPP.”

The United States allows the use of about 3,000 additives while about 800 natural and artificial additives together are allowed in Japan. He said, “Japan has repeatedly responded favorably to the U.S. demand that the use of additives not permitted in Japan should quickly be screened and be allowed to be marketed.”

As expected, apart from TPP negotiations with other countries towards Japan’s entry in the free trade pact, Prime Minister Abe made a promise to hold bilateral talks with the United States to reduce such non-tariff barriers, including Japan’s regulations in the food sector.
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