(Yicai Global) Sept. 11 -- Many market participants believe that infant formula has become one of the safest food products in China following the introduction of the formula filing system. Authorities have imposed a zero-tolerance policy on infant formula producers, sellers and importers.
The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) introduced a series of new policies including a formula filing system and a license-based administration system. All formula producers in the country must be licensed before they can start production activities.
The administration prohibits them from packaging their products under a different name or commissioning or engaging other businesses to produce their infant formula products. Base powder must be produced by firms internally. Companies must file all formulas with the SFDA in line with the compulsory national safety standards.
The administration has recently released the ninth list of milk formula registration records, and 224 formulas and 75 product series developed by 32 companies already got regulatory approval.
Examination of formulas is conducted following three principles, the SFDA's Ma Fuxiang told Yicai Global. First, infant formula products must contain all mandatory nutrients and those specified in the national standards. Second, contents of optional nutrients must be explicitly specified. Third, the use of ingredients such additives prohibited by the standards is strictly banned.
Experts estimate the SFDA will approve more than 1,000 formulas based on the number of Chinese and foreign producers, meaning that the regulator will license some 800 or so more products in addition to the 224 currently licensed ones, Ma said.
Relevant authorities will carry out random monthly checks on products sold in China, and producers must cooperate for food safety standards system inspections and unannounced reviews that the SFDA organizes.
A new era has started in the Chinese infant formula industry. The formula filing regulation requires market players to refocus on formula development, and high-quality products will gain popularity in the marketplace. New policies will make consumers behave more rationally and enable them to overcome a groundless preference for imported milk formula brands, said Gu Lei, vice president at Mead Johnson Greater China.