At the beginning of 2023, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) introduced a new differential registration scheme (해외제조업소 차등 등록제) for foreign food facilities manufacturing foods with potential risks was newly introduced. The importers are required to submit safety certificates such as HACCP, GMP, ISO22000, etc., when registering the foreign food facilities. This new scheme aims to intensify the safety control of imported foods throughout the entire manufacturing procedure. We take a look under the hood at the new regulation here.
Registering a foreign food facility is the first and foremost step to sell food to South Korea, but also one of the most significant regulatory compliance barriers that international stakeholders must overcome. Korean authority has been committed to helping overseas enterprises enter into Korea’s food market. On March 22, 2022, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) released a new guideline on foreign food facility registration via the updated online platform1, covering the modifications of the registration platform, and instructions for registering the foreign food facility via the platform. ChemLinked compiles the key points for enterprises’ references.
1. Main Changes of the Registration Platform
(1) Subdividing the Food Types
The food products are subdivided into more specific types in the registration application system. For example, when filling in the food product information via the system, we can select “processed food (kimchi)” or “health functional food (health functional raw materials)”, instead of the basic food groups of “processed food” or “health functional food”.
(2) Detailing the Packaging Facilities for Agricultural and Fishery Products
The categorizing of packaging facilities for agricultural and fishery products is modified according to the specific packaging places. For example, the packaging places of agricultural products are sub-divided into “farm”, “facility with farm and processing equipment”, and “freight house”.
2. Instructions for Registering the Foreign Food Facility
(1) What is Foreign Food Facility?
As per Article 2 of the Imported Food Act2, "foreign food facility" means “a facility located abroad (including a ship where fishery products are produced or processed) where imported food, etc. (excluding livestock products) is produced, manufactured, processed, treated, packaged, stored, etc.”
Either the importer or the owner/operator of the facility can apply for foreign food facility registration to MFDS. The registration should be completed before the import declaration.
The overseas factory manufacturing livestock products is referred to as a “foreign establishment”. To export livestock products, the enterprises shall submit the foreign establishment registration application to MFDS through the exporting country’s government, which is different from the registration of foreign food facility.
(2) How to Register the foreign food facility?
There are three types of registration: new registration, registration update, and registration renewal. “New registration” applies to unregistered facilities. If any of the registered items is changed, the applicant needs to apply for “registration update”. Moreover, one can apply for “registration renewal” when the validity period is about to end. Enterprises need to confirm the registration type following the below decision tree (Figure 1).