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China Sets Rules on Health Foods

A recent article written in the Chinese Medical News by the pharmaceutical consulting company Beijing Cons Bio-Tech, outlined the steps required to have a health food registered for sale in China. The rules appear at the outset to be very simple especially when compared to the rules and procedures set up in other countries, but that may not be the case. To have a health food registered the following steps must occur:

  1. the interested party must submit dossiers required in the Application Form for Registration Certificate of Imported Health Food set out by the Ministry of Health
  2. the material will be translated and screened to ensure acceptance by the Review Committee of the Ministry of Health
  3. the submission is sent to the Food Administration Department of the Ministry of Health
  4. after review, it is decided whether function tests can be started in China
  5. if function tests are required, the Ministry of Health designates institutes to carry out the tests
  6. the Review Committee makes a formal evaluation of the submission and sends its recommendation (whether or not to grant a registration certificate ) to the Food Administration Department of the Ministry of Health
  7. the Food Administration Department of the Ministry of Health grants a registration certificate

The key point is obviously the submission of proof of function of the food. It is not clear what kind of proof is required and there appears to be some need for data generated in China. China is the source of many products that have a long tradition for their healing and curative properties. However, like most other countries, it is becoming necessary to supply their health regulatory officials with scientific evidence about the efficacy of foods that are good for health. Consumer protection is always of utmost importance. Proving efficacy is not always easy.

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