Skip to Menu Skip to Search Contact Us Global Websites & Languages Skip to Content

SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 145/16

SafeGuardS Roast chicken

On August 2, 2016 Japan notified its draft amendment related to MRLs for Erythromycin in foods to the World Trade Organization (WTO). It will enter into force six months after publication. Objections and requests for hearing must be received before October 1, 2016.

Erythromycin is a macrolide antibiotic produced by Saccharopolyspora erythraea. It is widely used in medical and veterinary practice in order to combat Gram-positive and some Gram-negative bacteria. Abuse of antibiotics can leave residues in food products and cause undesirable effects on consumer health, especially adverse reactions in the most vulnerable risk groups, such as pregnant women and infants. As the result of increasing awareness of food safety among consumers with respect to antimicrobial resistance, maximum residue limits (MRLs) for erythromycin in foods have been established by international bodies and organizations including the European Union (EU), Heath Canada, and Codex in order to control antibiotic abuse. Nevertheless, MRLs for erythromycin in some foods differ from country to country. 

Food products are mainly produced by developing countries. [1] Western countries and Japan are the major food importers and have their own food regulations. In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan is a highly influential role model for food safety for neighboring countries. Its Food Sanitation Act authorizes the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) to establish MRLs for pesticides, feed additives, and veterinary drugs. The Positive List System has been introduced in Japan with the purpose of monitoring all foods distributed into the marketplace. To comply with international regulations, MRLs for Erythromycin regarding with MHLW Notification 499, 2005 have been reviewed and the amendment sent to the WTO in order to avoid creating a trade barrier [2]. A full list of Erythromycin MRLs and food commodities mentioned in this amendment is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Japan’s MRLs for Erythromycin in various food commodities

Target matrix MRLs (ppm)
Cattle, pigs, and other terrestrial mammals
  • Muscle
0.2
  • Fat
0.2
  • Liver
0.2
  • Kidney
0.2
  • Edible offal
0.2
Milk 0.04
Chicken and other poultry
  • Muscle
0.1
  • Fat
0.1
  • Liver
0.1
  • Kidney
0.1
  • Edible offal
0.1
  • Eggs
0.05
Salmon, trout, eel, and other fish 0.2
Bonito, horse mackerel, mackerel, sea bass, sea bream, and tuna 0.06
Shelled mollusks, crustaceans, and other aquatic animals 0.2

What do the changes mean?

Japanese MRLs have the potential to affect agricultural producers and food manufacturers, especially in third world countries. Residues of veterinary drug and pesticides in or on food products destined for Japan must not exceed MRLs. For support in complying with the food safety regulation, producers should seek professional advice.

SGS is committed to keeping you informed of regulation news and developments. Leveraging our global network of laboratories and food experts, SGS provides a comprehensive range of food safety and quality solutions, including analytical tests, audits, certifications, inspections, and technical support. We continually invest in our testing, capability, and state-of-the art technology to help you reduce risk, improve food safety and quality. For further more information, please visit our website: www.foodsafety.sgs.com.

For enquiries, please contact:

Amornpun Dajsiripun
Global Competence Support Centre Food Specialist
t: +66 2683 0541 ext 2423

Stay on top of regulatory changes within your industry: subscribe to SafeGuardS!

© SGS Group Management SA - 2016 - All rights reserved - SGS is a registered trademark of SGS Group Management SA. This is a publication of SGS, except for 3rd parties’ contents submitted or licensed for use by SGS. SGS neither endorses nor disapproves said 3rd parties contents. This publication is intended to provide technical information and shall not be considered an exhaustive treatment of any subject treated. It is strictly educational and does not replace any legal requirements or applicable regulations. It is not intended to constitute consulting or professional advice. The information contained herein is provided “as is” and SGS does not warrant that it will be error-free or will meet any particular criteria of performance or quality. Do not quote or refer any information herein without SGS’s prior written consent.