China’s new rules for food importation and facility registration

Hogan Lovells
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Hogan Lovells

China recently announced two revised decrees that, once implemented, would impose substantial new requirements for food and beverage companies that export to China.

These regulations are as follows:

  • Regulations on the Registration and Administration of Overseas Producers of Imported Food (Decree 248) [1]
  • Administrative Measures on Import and Export Food Safety (Degree 249) [2]

In particular, with some limited exceptions, Decree 248 will require that all overseas food manufacturers, processors, and storage facilities be registered with the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) to export product to China. Decree 249 will provide new enforcement tools for GACC to suspend or prohibit food importation into China when violation with applicable Chinese laws and regulations are identified.  

Both decrees are slated to enter into force on 1 January 2022. Below, we highlight some of the key provisions from these decrees. 

Highlights of Decree 248 on food facility registration

Once implemented, Decree 248 would expand the scope of overseas facilities subject to a registration requirement to include all food manufacturers, processors, and storage facilities. The product scope includes all food products except for food additives and “food-related products,” which is defined by the Food Safety Law of China to include food packaging materials, detergents, disinfectants, and tools and equipment used in food manufacturing. 

The new facility registration requirements differ based on the specific types of food products manufactured:

  • Group #1: 18 categories of food subject to the registration recommended by the competent authority of the home country, including: meat and meat products; casing; aquatic products; dairy products; bird's nest and bird's nest products; bee products; eggs and egg products; edible fat and oil; stuffed pasta; edible grains; grain milling industrial products and malt; fresh and dehydrated vegetables and dried beans; seasonings; nuts and seeds; dried fruits; unroasted coffee beans and cocoa beans; special dietary foods; and health food.     
  • Group #2: Other foods not covered by the above 18 categories. 

Facilities that manufacture products covered by Group #1 need to first obtain recommendation by the competent authority (defined as the government agency in charge of food safety) of the local jurisdiction for facility registration.  There are also detailed requirements for the registration dossier including, when requested, food safety documents, facility design, and manufacturing process flow chart. Facilities that manufacture products covered by Group #2 can directly apply for facility registration with less stringent document requirements.   

Highlights of Decree 249 on food importation

Once implemented, Decree 249 would equip GACC with more administrative enforcement tools regarding food importation. In the following circumstances, GACC may take control measures including suspending or prohibiting imports:

  • There is a major animal or plant disease outbreak or a significant change in the food safety situation in the exporting country (region), which makes it impossible to effectively guarantee the safety of food exports to China;
  • Food imports are contaminated by quarantined infectious pathogens, or there is evidence proving that (the food) could become a vector of quarantined infectious diseases, and there is no effective sanitation treatment to be taken;
  • The food imports under customs’ control measures pursuant to Article 34 paragraph 2 of these measures are again found to be noncompliant in items of safety, health, and environmental protection;
  • The overseas production facility violates relevant Chinese laws and regulations, and circumstances are serious; or
  • Other information indicates that relevant foods pose significant safety risks.

Next steps   

Hogan Lovells will continue to closely follow the implementation of these two decrees. 

 

References

1    An unofficial translation of Decree 248 is available at: China: Overseas Facilities Registration Regulation - Decree 248 | USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. 
2    An unofficial translation of Decree 249 is available at: China: Administrative Measures on Import and Export Food Safety | USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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