Japan is establishing plant-based labelling rules in order to remove obstacles for the country’s vegan food industry. At a press conference, government minister Taro Kono described the lack of guidelines as a “shackle” for the industry’s development, and also alluded to possible clarifications about novel cell-based proteins in the future.
Kono also mentioned that Japan should not miss out on the opportunity of the quickly growing plant-based industry. He added that plant-based products “won’t be a problem if the expression [used on the packaging] is not misleading.”
To clarify the government’s rules, Kono said that vegan food products should be clear that the item does not contain any animal-based ingredients, with statements such as “contains soy meat”, “not meat” and “oat milk”.
If a product says “100% plant-based”, producers should add further information about “whether it is derived from plants including food additives”. Disclaimers should be added to products whenever it is not explicitly clear in the name of the item that it is vegan. For example, “New Meat” should come with a statement that says “made from soy” or “not meat”. These rules would apply to plant-based meat alternatives, as well as vegan substitutes for dairy, egg, and seafood.
Japan’s labelling clarifications come as the country’s plant-based food market picks up speed and sees the arrival of more vegan options. Burger King Japan added the Plant Based Whopper to its menu, and iconic chain Ippudo launched a vegan tonkotsu ramen, and is now reportedly considering turning one of its branches into a dedicated meat-free outlet.
Additionally, Kono alluded to the possibility of more clarifications to come about cell-based meat alternatives. He said that food safety and hygiene were also key issues the government will have to consider before laying out its standards. Last year, the country’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said that it is now in the process of deliberating rules and regulations for cellular agriculture products.