On June 8, 2016, China's National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) announced online that 23 food packaging materials had passed the safety evaluation review by the NHFPC expert panel.1 Specifically, the announcement includes final clearances for the following: 

  • 12 new food packaging additives (Table 1),
  • 5 expanded use clearances for food packaging additives (Table 2),
  • 6 new food-contact resins (Table 3)

These approvals will ultimately be incorporated into the relevant Food Safety Standards. Specifically, the additive approvals will be added to China's GB 9685

Standard for Uses of Additives in Food Containers and Packaging Materials.2 Meanwhile, the new plastic resin approvals will be incorporated into the new Standard on Food-Contact Use Plastic Resins.3 It is doubtful that these approvals will be adopted in the Standards currently under revision. In all likelihood, they will remain administrative approvals until the Standards are next amended in the coming years.4 This is merely a clerical issue, as these administrative listings are final approvals that may be relied upon to lawfully market the referenced food-contact materials in China.

The June 8 announcement follows NHFPC's April 29, 2016 release of its first batch of final approvals in 2016,5 which included the following:

  • 15 new food packaging additives (Table 1),
  • 2 expanded use clearances for food packaging additives (Table 2),
  • 6 new food-contact resins (Table 3)

Both sets of approvals took considerably longer than usual, and this is likely due to the fact that the Chinese authorities have been busy implementing the recently amended Food Safety Law,6 and developing/amending key Food Safety Standards. Given the proximity between these recent announcements (April and June), it appears that the pace at which Chinese food-contact approvals are issued will revert back to the timeframe that we have seen prior to 2015. More specifically, after a draft clearance is published, it typically takes approximately 6 months for NHPFC to publish the corresponding final approval.