On December 25, 2020, the Institute of Food Science and Technology (“IFST”) issued China’s first plant-based meat standard T/CIFST 001-2020 (the “Standard”). The Standard will take effect on June 25, 2021.

The Standard is a group standard issued by a government sponsored industry association and adopted by its members[1] Group standards can sometimes become national mandatory standards, and regulators will refer to group standards in the absence of corresponding national standards. In this context, IFST drafted the Standard jointly with various stakeholders, including food testing institutions, food companies, and research institutes.

The Standard fills a gap in China’s regulation of plant-based meat products. Before the issuance of this Standard, China only had a group standard for soybean protein products (SB/T 10649), which applies only to plant-based meat made from soybeans or soybean protein. The constantly-developing market for plant-based meat in China called for a more comprehensive standard that could cover plant-based meat made from additional sources.

The Standard defines plant-based meat as food products that use plant-sourced materials or their processed products as sources of protein or fat, with or without other auxiliary materials and food additives, and have the characteristics, texture, flavor, and morphology similar to animal meat. It further classifies plant-based meat into two categories: raw products and cooked products. The Standard provides the basic requirements and technical standards for plant-based meat, such as the exclusion of raw materials from animal sources, restrictions on food additives, protein content requirements, and contamination limits. It also provides guidance on labeling, packaging, storage and transportation, and corresponding testing standards for plant-based meat products.

The full text of the Standard is available in English here.

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Contributors for the China Food Law and Regulation blog:

John Balzano, Julia Post, Muyun Hu, Annie Wang, and Audrey Zhi

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[1] China Standardization Law, Art. 8 (Nat’l People’s Cong. Standing Comm. 2017).

Photo of Muyun Hu Muyun Hu

Muyun Hu advises multinational and Chinese companies on a range of regulatory, policy, transactional, and litigation matters. Her work focuses on the life science industry, particularly with regard to food, drug, medical device, cosmetic, and other regulated products.