Why do infant formula products of the same brand use different formulas for products sold in New Zealand from that in China?

The New Zealand Food and Drug Safety Institute of Nutrition Research Applications (NZFDSI) has provided us with some insights.

New Zealand and China have different requirements of nutrient content for infant formula. They each have a legislative minimums and maximums for different nutrient content in infant formulas.

For Stage 1 and Stage 2 infant formulas, the range between the minimum to the maximum allowable nutrient content, of the two countries, are not mutually exclusive. This means that the two ranges have overlapping parts. If the nutrient content is within the overlapping range, it will satisfy both countries’ requirements. Therefore, the same formulation can be used for both New Zealand and China.

However, for the Stage 3 infant formulas, the range between the minimum to the maximum allowable nutrient content, of New Zealand and China, are mutually exclusive, therefore the formulations for products sold in the two countries require different formulation.

Let’s use the Vitamin A’s content requirement as an example.

In New Zealand, the maximum allowable Vitamin A content per serving (36g of infant formula powder) in infant formula is 135mg. When we take into account of the 20% of tolerance, the actual Vitamin A content has to be lower than 112.5mg to ensure that this requirement is met.

On the other hand, the Chinese requirement for the minimum Vitamin A content per serving is 131.4mg. When we take into account of the 20% of tolerance, the actual Vitamin A content has to be higher than 160mg to ensure that this requirement is met.

In conclusion,
1) China has more requirements for nutrient content in infant formulas when compared to that in New Zealand.
2) The differences in formulation requirements between New Zealand and China are due to different management strategies of the two regions; it does not mean that one is better or worse than the other.