Secures Safety of Food
The ministry implements important measures for securing safety of food we eat every day, taking every necessary step to prevent food poisoning and establishing a variety of standards concerning foods.
Increased Interests in Safety of Foods
The food distribution has internationalized significantly while the tastes of nationals have diversified in the last few years, resulting in the trading of a wide variety of foods including imported foods and health foods. Nonetheless, new problems have surfaced at the same time, including those relating to dioxin, endocrine disrupter chemicals and food allergies. Amid such drastic changes in eating habits, interests in the safety of foods are growing increasingly higher. In light of these, the Department of Food Sanitation is introducing a variety of measures to secure the safety of foods and support the life and health of nationals. In the concrete, it establishes standards concerning foods, additives and pesticide residues to be observed by food producers, etc., while controlling the sanitary condition of food producing facilities and monitoring/giving directions concerning the safety of traded foods, through local governments and quarantine stations throughout the nation.
As for meat and chicken, it gives examination to make sure that domestic animals and fowls are processed in an appropriate sanitary condition, through local governments throughout the nation.
In addition, the department has prepared a prevention manual for family uses and provides information so that accidents, including food poisoning, will not be caused by food or drink.
The safety of genetically modified foods is attracting increasing attention both at home and abroad. In light of this, the department has introduced the following measures.
(1) Appropriate safety examination: Influence of genetically modified foods upon human bodies is examined in line with the safety evaluation guideline. Such examinations will be legally obligated in April 2001, which is expected to make the securing of safety even more definite.
(2) Positive information disclosure: Information on genetically modified foods is offered through the ministry's homepage. As for safety examination, details of deliberations and application documents presented by companies developing such foods are disclosed to the public.
(3) Operation of international conferences: The establishment of international standards for evaluating the safety of genetically modified foods has become necessary as a result of the expansion of international trading of genetically modified foods. Japan has been appointed to the chairman country of the Special Working Group on Foods Applying Biotechnology, FAO/WHO Joint Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Department of Food Sanitation is actively endeavoring for the establishment of international standards as the leader of the working group.
In Japan, supplements other than tablets, capsules, etc. that had been taken as drugs are increasingly handled as foods, reflecting increased people's interests in health, improvement of knowledge and ideas accumulated through their eating experience.
Such foods will contribute the maintenance and improvement of health when taken appropriately. On the other hand, some of them could damage health as a result of inappropriate indication or inappropriate methods of taking.
Under such circumstances, discussions were made at "Discussion Meeting on Handling of So-Called Supplements" and the results were summarized into a report in March 2000.
The report provides that supplements shall be classified into independently-approved products and standard products. It also stipulates that standards for nutritional contents, as well as those for the declaration of nutritional functions, production, etc., shall be established, aiming to offer correct information and secure safety. Actual works for system establishment is to be promoted in line with this report in the future.