China will require basic nutritional labelling on all food packaging from May 1 and go after companies that hype up their products as having special health benefits, according to a new government directive.
Labels will be required to show how much protein, fat, carbohydrate and sodium is in a food, and may also show the cholesterol, sugar and vitamin content, the Health Ministry said in a statement on its Web site (http://www.moh.gov.cn).
Companies will not be allowed to say their products are high in calcium, iron or low in fat unless they meet certain strict criteria, the notice said.
"The rules stress that nutritional labelling must be accurate and objective. They must not make false claims nor exaggerate the nutritional benefits of the product," it said. "Labels must also not make direct or indirect claims of curing illness."
China has suffered a rash of scares over the safety of its food and manufactured products in the last year, which highlighted shoddy oversight and prompted a wave of new regulations and clean-up campaigns from the central government.
According to a survey published in the official China Food Quality News this week, almost two-thirds of Chinese are worried about food safety, while a fifth have no confidence in drinking water safety. (Reuters)
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