Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) has announced it will add walnuts to the list of allergens that food manufacturers and importers must include on product packaging labels.
Now, the only allergens required to be labelled when present in a food are egg, milk, wheat, crab, shrimp, buckwheat (soba) and peanut.
Labelling the presence of walnuts is currently strongly recommended but not legally required in Japan. Other allergens recommended to be labelled include cashew nut, almond, sesame, soybean, orange, kiwi fruit, peach, apple, banana, mountain yam, pine mushroom, abalone, squid, mackerel, salmon, salmon roe, beef, chicken, pork, and gelatin.
Since February 2021, CAA has held three Advisor Meetings on Food Allergy Labelling to determine if mandated labelling for walnuts should be introduced. Based on the results of a new longitudinal study on food allergies in Japan, the advisory panel found that walnuts should be added to the list of allergens that must be labelled.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service has issued a report in relation to the updated Japanese labelling requirements, noting that Japan’s CAA will hold a public comment period prior to making this modification to the Food Labelling Standards. The dates for the comment period are yet to be announced.
Japanese importers and manufacturers bear sole responsibility for the development of labels compliant with Japanese food labelling regulations, including allergy labelling. There is no legal obligation for exporters to affix Japanese labels to their products prior to export.
See the USDA website for links to the report and the Japanese longitudinal study that was used to inform the regulatory decision (translation required).