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Are you looking to export food to China? If so, there are a few regulations you need to be aware of. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of the food regulation in China you need to be aware of before starting your journey there. We will also highlight some of the key issues that exporters should consider when exporting food to this market. So, if you are considering exporting food to China, read on for more information!

Changes to Food Regulations in China and their effects

The PRC Food Safety Law (2015) sets out comprehensive statutory requirements governing the production, circulation, recall, and import/export of food products in China. This law is designed to ensure that food quality and integrity are maintained.

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In 2009, the original Food Safety Law of China was enacted for food safety and sanitation standards and requirements for food production and operation.

All of these tasks were previously assigned to the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), which was established in 2013 as the replacement agency for the State Food and Drug Administration. Additional measures against food producers and government officials who don’t react swiftly to food safety concerns are included in the revised legislation, including:

  • Consumers can now seek three times the amount they have lost as a result of food-related issues. Customers previously had the option of claiming compensation at only ten times the price of purchased food.
  • Producers may face penalties of up to 30 times the value of any defective food item. Previously, producers faced fines ranging from 10 to 50 times the value of substandard food items.
  • If the goods in dispute are worth less than RMB 10,000 ($1,613), the highest penalty is RMB 150,000 ($24,200).
  • People who own property where illegal activities are happening can be fined up to RMB 200,000 ($32,265). People who sell substances that will be put into food knowing that it is illegal can also be fined. The money they make from this sale will be seized.
  • Food manufacturers will be primarily responsible for establishing liability.
  • People in charge of food safety who do not respond to emergencies or cover up food safety issues can be demoted or fired.
  • People who abuse their power or neglect their duties can be charged with a crime.

Who is affected by the new import/export food regulations in China?

Online sellers are greatly affected by these new restrictions and food regulations in China, as food is one of the most commonly sold items. The food safety standards will help to improve food quality but may also make it more difficult for small businesses to comply. In the situation of Milk powder manufacturers, food regulations in China propose to test every batch of products; internal checks should be carried out regularly, and submit reports to the appropriate authorities. Taobao and WeChat are online selling platforms in China that are now required to register vendors’ true identities and check their certificates to ensure food safety and quality.

If they will not comply and provide information such as the name, address, and contact details of the vendor whose products are implicated in violations of food safety regulations, the online store must compensate the customer.

The Effect of Food Regulations in China on the Food Industry

The enforcement of food safety regulations continues to be a high priority for China’s top leadership team. When it comes to proving liability, the new proposed amendment argues that food manufacturers should be held accountable first. Foreign manufacturers will be forced to keep a closer eye on their sourcing as a result of stricter fines, as water and soil pollution, as well as harmful additives, all have an impact on food quality. Foreign corporations may also be concerned about the ability of foreign companies to increase market share at the expense of domestic brands, which could be a source of anxiety.

According to competitive analysis, if stiffer fines encourage domestic producers to raise the safety and quality requirements of their products, international enterprises may face increased competition in the market. The milk powder sector is currently through a restructuring process.

Import/Export Food License and Approval Requirements

To obtain food import and export licenses in China, food producers must meet food safety and quality requirements. Food manufacturers must comply with food safety regulations, as this will ensure that their products can continue to be sold in China. With that being said, let’s look at the food import and export approval and license requirements that are necessary to do business in China.

Food regulations in China: Customs Registration

First on our list is customs registration. PRC Food Safety Law governs food import and export activities, and food import producers need to be registered with the AQSIQ (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine) while local food manufacturers export food only need to be recorded with AQSIQ.

Import Permit

You need an import permit if the food products you want to import don’t meet any existing national safety standards. You can apply for this permit by submitting materials to a national food standard technical examination institution. This will show that the food product is safe.

Imported Food Inspection and Testing

If you want to import food products, they will need to be inspected by the local Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau. If the products pass inspection, the CIQ will give you a Certificate of Inspection for Goods Inward. With this certificate, Customs will release your imported foods. If you are importing food products into China for the first time, you will need to provide relevant materials to show that the product labels comply with the labeling standards in China.

Export Permits and Clearances

The Merchandise Directory of Export Permit is issued jointly by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the General Administration of Customs. In 2017, food products for which export permits are required include corn and corn powder, wheat and wheat powder, and livestock (live or frozen meat products). This is the only exception for food products that need an export permit.

Other Permits and Licenses

You need a license to make, trade, or sell food. There are some exceptions for selling edible agricultural goods. If you sell food online, you need to register with your state’s Food and Drug Administration to comply with food safety laws.

Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting Food In China

China is the second-largest food market in the world, and it is growing quickly. If you want to grow your business, exporting your food to China can be a great way to do that. However, exporting food to China can also be daunting. That’s why this step-by-step guide will make the process straightforward for you.

Step 1: Complete the Registration Process for Importers and Exporters

China is a big market for foreign products. A lot of companies use both general trade export and cross-border e-commerce to sell their products in China. If you choose either option, foreign food and cosmetic importers and exporters must register with the “Registration Systems of Imported Food and Cosmetic Importers and Exporters.”

Step 2: Prepare Necessary Documents, Obtain PreImport Licensing and Trademark Registration. 

There are several documents you will need to export food to China. The first is a food import license, which can be obtained from the Customs office of China. Other details of the products, such as quality, quarantine, origin, and import control, as well as a thorough packaging list and a description of the packaging material, are all required, among other things should be properly documented.

FOOD REGULATIONS IN CHINA pre-import-licenses

There are different documentation requirements for different types of food products when exporting to China. However, in general, the exporter may need to provide the following documents:

  • Commercial invoice;
  • A detailed packaging list;
  • Bill of lading;
  • Certificate for export from country of origin;
  • Hygiene/Health certificate;
  • Certificate of bottling date (for drinks);
  • Certificate of free sale;
  • Sample of the original label;
  • Sample of Chinese label; and
  • Inspection certificate issued by AQSIQ.

For Pre-Import Licensing of export food products, China does not require it in general, but if the product is listed in the 2019 Goods Catalogue for Automatic Import License Management, such as poultry and dairy product, importers should apply for an Automatic Import License, which is provided by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

In Trademark registration, registering your food product’s trademark in China is a critical step in ensuring the success of your food product in the Chinese market. Your food product’s trademark will be used on Chinese food labels, so it is important to make sure that your trademark is protectable and registerable in China. This is process is recommended for foreign food companies that plan on selling their food products in China.

Step 3: Labeling

To be imported into China, every food product must be labeled in simplified Chinese characters. Chinese Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ) must approve all labels before they can be used following AQSIQ. Because China’s labeling regulations are constantly changing, it is recommended that you check with specialists to ensure compliance.

Step 4: Food Safety Inspections and Customs Clearance

Once the food products have arrived in China, they are inspected by Customs officers, who examine them for compliance with applicable shipping documentation and labeling standards. The GACC will provide a China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau (CIQ) certificate, which the Chinese government will recognize. Every shipment of product into China is required to have this certificate produced. Before a CIQ declaration may be issued to a company, it must first submit the following documents: the company’s business license, import license, quota certificate, product safety compliance declaration, and comprehensive product information.

Enforcement of Food Regulations

Strict as it is, food safety regulation in China is only as good as its enforcement. The Chinese government has been working to improve food safety enforcement by increasing inspections of food manufacturing facilities and food retailers, as well as issuing fines and penalties for violations.

By these regulations, food producers in China have to step up their food safety game, which could lead to increased competition for international food manufacturers but when it comes to quality and safety, consumers always come first.

There are agencies tasked explicitly with food safety in China. Let’s see and get to know them and their responsibilities a little better.

  1. State Market Supervision Administration: They are the ones responsible for monitoring and enforcing food safety standards in all food industries in China.
  2. General Administration of Customs: The agency that is in charge of making sure food laws and regulations are followed at ports.
  3. National Health Commission (NHFPC): This agency evaluates food safety risks at the national level and issues food safety standards.

Need help grasping food regulations in China and exporting there?

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We have helped hundreds of food producers and companies with entering the Chinese market both through distribution and eCommerce. Contact us to learn more about the solutions we have for you and understand more about the opportunities China represents for foreign Food brands.

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