NIHS discusses the current status of food contact regulations in Japan

In the lead up to the Global Food Contact 2015 conference, Smithers Pira has conducted interviews with the regulatory experts that are on the speaker panel for the May eventtaking place in Rome, Italy.

Meet the expert: Dr. Yoko Kawamura, National Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) Japan

Dr. Yoko Kawamura is the Former Director of Food Additive Division at National Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS), Japan. She has worked for food safety affairs mainly about residue pesticides, food irradiation, food contact materials and food additives at NIHS during 40 years. She was the Chief of Food Contact Section for 15 years and then became the Director of Food Additive Division. Four years before she retired her position, though she is still working at NIHS as a senior researcher for the safety of food contact materials and food additives. She is also a member of Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) during 18 years. She received her Ph. D in pharmaceutical sciences from the Kyoto University.

Dr. Kawamura will be delivering her presentation "Current status of food contact regulations in Japan" on conference day 2 - Thursday, 21 May 2015


Smithers Pira:

Please detail your current role at the National Institute of Health Sciences, Japan. 

Dr. Yoko Kawamura:

I coordinate some research and guide young researchers regarding the safety of food contact articles and food additives.


Smithers Pira:

You’ve worked with food safety including food contact materials and additives for 40 years- what is the biggest change you have seen in the industry across that time? 

Dr. Yoko Kawamura:

Forty years ago, many food safety issues came up in Japan, such as pesticide residues, PCB contamination, carcinogenicity of tar colour and VCM in bottles, though the industries had little concern for them and the issues were not publically known. However, the industry has changed significantly.  Nowadays most industries put a lot of time and energy in to food safety and take an active role in ensuring it.


Smithers Pira:

What do you feel Japan is doing differently in relation to food contact than the rest of the world, which is making it such an attractive market for exporters of food related products and packaging?

Dr. Yoko Kawamura:

Recently the Japanese government has decided to take steps towards harmonizing its regulations with the global standards such as CODEX for food additives and food contaminants.  However, there are no global standards for food contact materials- It is a shame that EU and US regulations are so very different. 


Smithers Pira: 

What are you most looking forward to about Global Food Contact 2015?

Dr. Yoko Kawamura:

The regulations of other countries are interesting to learn. I am looking forward to hearing about ways to harmonize the different regulations.