Food exporters, under the Draft Regulation to Implement China’s New Food Safety Law, will face an increasing number of technical barriers to trade. Below, we explore how these somewhat restrictive reforms will specifically affect Australian dairy producers looking to export to the lucrative Chinese market.

Biological Interference

Amongst the new measures being introduced will be the requirement that foreign food producers will have an onus to prevent intentional damage of food by means of chemical, biological or physical interference throughout the production and transportation process. Moreover, samples of food goods deemed to be high risk will be analysed and retained for entry inspection. Products with an ordinary risk will also be tested, and those which carry a low-risk rating will only be subject to onsite inspections.

Dairy products could well fall into this high-risk category and will be subject to this higher level of scrutiny. As such, to prevent having stock rejected from a failed inspection in China, dairy exporters will need to be vigilant in ensuring that their products have gone through stringent testing before shipping.

Special Purpose Foods

Manufacturers of foods classified as “special purpose “, namely infant formula products and health food, will also need to apply for registration with the Chinese government. These new requirements are especially relevant to Australian dairy producers, who are a key supplier of infant milk formula to the country.

More specifically, every registered product formula manufactured by the same company should have substantial differences that can be ascertained by scientific assessment. At most, a company would be permitted to have three series of products and nine product formula.


Several changes to Chinese labelling requirements have also been brought into effect. They include the prohibition of words on the label that indicate banned substances were not added under Chinese national food safety standards. This is also applicable for claimed GMO-free products that have not received Chinese government approval. Lastly, Chinese labelling must be printed before importation. However, in general, defective labelling no longer gives rise to a right to compensation.

Dairy exporters should factor this into their risk assessment, given the more costly and non-refundable consequences that can ensue from non-compliance.

Sanctions and Penalties

Dairy exporters should also be aware of the array of sanctions that could apply to them. Failing to register correctly infant formula can incur fines of up to 20 times the product value just as consumers can also seek recourse up to 10 times the value of the defective products against suppliers. Furthermore, these breaches will likely endanger producers prospects of re-exporting and so should be front of mind in managing risk.

Practical Considerations

One possible measure that dairy companies may want to implement is establishing robust internal systems. This would primarily involve developing a protocol and establishing a company committee to monitor compliance. Compliance committees should comprise of team members from across departments to ensure the input from all business areas on the interactions that may affect the quality and labelling of products. Moreover, giving this committee a recordkeeping function also facilitates accessibility to the findings of any investigations conducted into products.

Key Takeaways

It remains to be seen as to whether China will adopt a more flexible approach to import regulations that will significantly reduce the costs of compliance for Australian exporters. However, by all indications, the free trade agreement should serve to bolster the standards of Australia’s food integrity systems, affording them greater recognition by trading partners. Moreover, increased demand for Australian dairy produce and an expressed preference by the Chinese government to streamline regulatory burden should see incremental reforms to this end being phased in throughout the course of 2016.

Questions? Get in touch on 1300 544 755. 

COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Anthony Lieu
Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from LegalVision and can unsubscribe at any time. See our full Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at

View Privacy Policy