Hong Kong has amended its food and drugs (composition and labeling) regulations (the Regulations) to introduce mandatory requirements for nutrition labeling of infant formula, follow-up formula and packaged food for infants and young children. These new labeling requirements, which seek to promote children’s health, help consumers make better-informed food choices and encourage manufacturers to offer more nutritious products, came into effect on June 13.
The requirements are introduced through Regulation 4C and Schedule 6A and prescribe specific labeling of any infant and follow-up formulas or packaged food for infants and young children (under the age of 36 months) that must include the following:
- For infant formula – energy value of the formula and contents of 29 nutrients, including choline, selenium and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and E.
- For follow-up formula – energy value of the formula and contents of 25 nutrients, including iron, calcium and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and E.
- For packaged food – energy value of the food and contents of six nutrients, including protein, fat, carbohydrates and sodium.
All energy values must be expressed in kilocalorie and/or kilojoule per 100 grams/milliliters of formula or food. Nutrient contents must be expressed in grams (or other appropriate units) per 100 grams/milliliters of formula or food.
The requirements exempt certain foods described under Schedule 6B of the Regulations, such as formulas intended for infants and young children with an impaired capacity to digest certain nutrients.
The penalties for failure to comply with Regulation 4C (as set forth in Regulation 5) are steep. In particular, anyone who fails to comply with the new regulations is subject to a fine of up to HK$50,000 and six months’ imprisonment.