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[Updated] South Korea Food Code Revision in 2023: Collection and Interpretation

A collection of revisions for Korean Food Code, as well as a brief interpretation of the regulation.

Food Code is one of the most important regulations for the Korean food industry. It specifies the standards and specifications of each food category, regulates the maximum limits of pesticides, and details the food raw material lists. 

To make its food products more competitive in the global market and ensure that consumers have access to safe and high-quality food, the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety(MFDS) keeps a high frequency of modification on the regulation. However, this makes it difficult for overseas companies to track the updates.

To remove the regulatory obstacles, ChemLinked introduces the updates of the Food Code in 2023, as well as a brief interpretation of the regulation. 

Food Code Updates in 2023

Date

Official Notification

Amendments

Effective on Jan. 1, 2023 (modified on Mar. 31, 2022)

MFDS Notification No. 2022-25

The terminology of “sell-by date(유통기한)” is modified as “use-by date (소비기한)" in this version following the amendments in Food Labeling Standard.

Effective on Jan. 1, 2023 (modified on Apr. 20, 2022)

MFDS Notification No. 2022-31

The terminology of “sell-by date(유통기한)” is modified as “use-by date (소비기한)" in this version following the modifications in Food, Food Additives, Livestock Product and Health Functional Food Use-by Date Determination Standard.

Feb. 17, 2023

MFDS Notification No. 2023-13

(1) Modifying the preservation and distribution standards

  • When Home Meal Replacement (HMR) Food, Home Meal Replacement (HMR) Food containing meat, Ready-to-eat Food, and Dietary Management Foods contain frozen materials, the products are allowed to be preserved and distributed in the frozen state. 

  • Refrigerated meats are permitted to be temporary frozen if they are shredded or sliced.

  • Expand the scope of frozen foods that can be thawed and distributed.

(2) Modifying the definitions of food types

  • The forms of nutritional formulas, including liquids, gels, powders, and granules, are deleted to remove the form restrictions and allow enterprises to develop nutritional formulas in various forms.

  • Meat Meal Kits are permitted to be manufactured without natural materials. 

April 11, 2023MFDS Notification No. 2023-28

(1) Optimization of Pesticides MRL Lists

(2) Modifications for Veterinary Drugs

(3) Amendments to Test Methods

(Find more details in ChemLinked News: South Korea Updates Food Code, Focusing on MRLs Requirements)

April 28, 2023
MFDS Notification No.2023-29The provisions related to food additives are modified to keep aligned with the modifications in the Food Additive Code
May 1, 2023
MFDS DraftMFDS consults on the modifications of MRLs of 87 pesticides and 1 veterinary drug in the Food Code. The consulting period is set to end on June 30, 2023. 
July 18, 2023MFDS Drafts 

MFDS issued two exposure drafts of the Food Code, seeking public feedback. The consultation periods for both drafts are scheduled to conclude on September 18, 2023.

The proposed amendments encompass: alterations to the food raw material lists; revisions to MRLs of pesticides and veterinary drugs; enhanced inspection processes for edible raw eggs; exemptions for sterilization and disinfection procedures for powder-formed FSMP; and changes to mycotoxin standards for processed foods produced entirely from corn and sorghum. More detail here

August 31, 2023MFDS Notification No. 2023-56

The amendments mainly include updating pesticide residue requirements and introducing meat alternatives and new Foods for Special Medical Purposes (FSMP). Establishing new standards for meat alternative products indicates that this product is no longer a market concept and should comply with the mandatory standards before being put into the market. Check the detailed specifications here at ChemLinked News: South Korea Issues the Meat Alternative and FSMP Standards in Food Code

November 28, 2023MFDS Notification No. 2023-72

The amendments mainly include:

  • Addition of 105 internationally safe-confirmed fishery and agricultural products to the food materials list

  • Revisions to MRLs of 114 pesticides and veterinary drugs; 

  • Exemptions for sterilization and disinfection procedures for powder-formed FSMP. 

Check the detailed specifications here at ChemLinked News: South Korea to Revise Food Code: Food Materials and Maximum Residual Limits 

December 26, 2023MFDS Notice No. 2023-605

Proposed amendments

  • Establishing standards and specifications for “nutritional supplements for patients with respiratory diseases”, allowing various food products to be supplied to patients;

  • Revising the criteria for the use of Garcinia Cambogia extract in food from “less than 5% usage, not exceeding a consumption amount of 6g” to “less than 2% usage, not exceeding a consumption amount of 2.5g.”;

  • Revising the residue tolerance standards for four pesticides.

Suggestions are welcome before February 26, 2024. 

December 26, 2023MFDS Notice No. 2023-604

Proposed amendments:

  • Establishing and revising residual limits for pesticides and veterinary drugs in food;

  • Relaxing the criteria for ambient and refrigerated sauces that are frozen together with foods for auxiliary purposes;

  • Allowing oak chip to be used as flavoring agents in soy sauce and sauce production, etc.

Suggestions are welcome before February 26, 2024.  

Interpretation

The Food Code poses a significant challenge for enterprises due to its complex nature, encompassing a multitude of provisions and the need to adhere to various specifications. 

The Food Code comprises nine chapters, each addressing different aspects of food safety and regulation, along with eight accompanying tables. 

Chapter 1 serves as an introduction, providing general provisions for all food products. It lays the foundation for the subsequent chapters by establishing fundamental principles and guidelines.

 Chapter 2 gives a comprehensive overview of the scope of food ingredients, as well as the manufacturing and sanitation requirements. This chapter outlines the necessary measures that enterprises must undertake to ensure the safety and quality of their food products.

Chapters 3 and 4 focus on special food groups, namely foods for young children and long-preserved food. These chapters individually outline the specific standards that govern the production of these types of foods. Note taht these special foods can be manufactured into various food types, requiring enterprises to comply with the requirements stated in both Chapter 3/4 and Chapter 5, which delineates the standards for each food type (Beverages, Confectioneries, etc. ).

Chapter 6 delves into the Food Cooking Standards and Specifications of Restaurants. Chapters 7 and 8 introduce the sampling and test methods. Lastly, Chapter 9 serves as the Re-examination Period, allowing enterprises to review and reassess their adherence to the Food Code

In conclusion, the Food Code presents enterprises with a complex framework to navigate. Each chapter serves a distinct purpose, addressing various aspects of food safety standards and regulations. Understanding and complying with the Food Code is essential for businesses to ensure the safety and quality of their food products. 

For more information about Food Code updates, please refer to ChemLinked Featured Page for South Korea Food Code

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