Expert Interpretation in September 2019


Changes in Supervision Mode of Label Inspection for Imported Prepackaged Food

1.What are prepackaged foods?

Pre-packaged food refers to food that is pre- quantitatively packaged or produced in packaging materials and containers, including pre- quantitatively packaged food and food that is pre- quantitatively produced in packaging materials and containers and has uniform quality or volume identification within a certain limited range.

2.Relevant laws and regulations

Food Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China Announcement No.70 of 2019 of the General Administration of Customs on Matters Related to Supervision and Administration of Label Inspection of Import and Export prepackaged foods

3.When will the new regulatory management model be implemented?

At the end of April 2019, China’s customs issued announcement No.70 of the General Administration of Customs in 2019, specifying the formal implementation date as October 1st, 2019, giving China’s import and export enterprises a period of transition.

4.What are the labeling elements of prepackaged foods?

The labels of prepackaged foods imported normally must indicate the food name, ingredients list, specifications and net content, production date and shelf life, storage conditions, country of origin, name, address, contact information of domestic agents, etc., and indicate the nutritional ingredients according to the situation.

5.What circumstances are prepackaged foods not allowed to import

1)Prepackaged foods do not have a Chinese label, a Chinese instruction book or labels, instructions do not meet the requirements of the label elements, shall not be imported

2)The format layout inspection results of imported prepackaged foods do not meet the requirements of China’s laws, administrative regulations, rules and food safety standards

3)The conformity test result does not conform to the contents marked on the label.

The new model cancels the prepackaged foods label filing before import

Starting from October 1st, 2019, the customs will no longer record the labels of prepackaged foods imported for the first time. Importers shall be responsible for checking whether the labels meet the requirements of relevant laws and administrative regulations of our country.

 1. Audit Before Import:

New Mode:

Subject: Overseas producers, overseas shippers and importers.

Specific matters:

Responsible for checking whether the Chinese labels imported into prepackaged foods conform to the relevant laws administrative regulations and national food safety standards. Special attention should be paid to the allowable dosage range of special ingredients, nutritional ingredients, additives and other Chinese regulations.

Old Mode:

Subject: Overseas producers, overseas shippers, importers and China customs.

Specific matters:

For prepackaged foods imported for the first time, China customs shall check whether the Chinese label is qualified. If it is qualified, the inspection agency shall issue a filing certificate. General enterprises can import a few samples to apply for the issuance of a filing certificate.

2. Declaration:

New Mode

Subject: Importer

Specific matters:

importers do not need to provide qualified certification materials, original labels and translations when reporting, but only need to provide qualification statements, importer qualification documents, exporter/manufacturer qualification documents and product qualification documents. 

Old Mode

Subject: Importer, China customs

Specific matters:

In addition to the above-mentioned materials, original label sample and translation, Chinese label sample and proof materials shall also be provided. For prepackaged foods that is not imported for the first time, it is also required to provide a label filing certificate.

3. Inspection:

New Mode:

Subject: Importer, customs

Specific matters:

If the imported prepackaged foods are subject to onsite inspection or laboratory inspection, the importer shall submit to the customs the certificate of conformity, the original and translated label. the Chinese label sample, etc. and accept the supervision of the customs.

Old Mode:

Subject: Importer, Customs

Specific matters:

Customs will conduct format layout inspection on labels Carry out compliance testing on the contents of labels Prepackaged foods that has passed the inspection and quarantine and has passed the technical treatment and re-inspection may be imported; otherwise, the goods shall be returned to the country or destroyed.

4. Supervision:

New Mode:

Subject: Importer, China customs

Specific matters:

When the customs receive a report from relevant departments or consumers that the imported prepackaged foods label is suspected of violating the regulations, it shall be handled according to law upon confirmation.

Which commodities can be exempted from customs label inspection?

Imports and exports of non-tradable food such as samples, gifts, gifts and exhibits, imports of food for duty-free operation (except tax exemption on outlying islands), food for personal use by embassies and consulates, and food for personal use such as exports of food for personal use by embassies and consulates and overseas personnel of Chinese enterprises may apply for exemption from import and export of prepackaged foods labels

Do you need to provide Chinese labels when importing from prepackaged foods by mail, express mail or cross-border electronic commerce?

At present, China customs requires that trade goods must have a Chinese label that meets the requirements before being imported into China for sale. For self-use goods imported into China by mail, express mail or cross-border electronic commerce, this list is not yet included.

How do enterprises / consumers identify the authenticity of prepackaged foods?

Prepackaged foods imported from formal channels should have Chinese labels that conform to relevant laws and regulations and national standards Enterprises/consumers can ask domestic business entities for “Inspection and Quarantine certificate of Imported Goods” to identify the authenticity of imported goods.