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South Korean Food Policy 2021

South Korea’s imported food policy 2021 mainly introduces the remote inspection, mandatory sanitary certificates, and enhanced safety control of food purchased on cross-board e-commerce platforms, etc.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) shared the food policy for 2021 1 with embassies on April 16, 2021. The competent authority mainly introduced the requirements on foreign food facility inspection, livestock product's sanitary certificate, food purchased on cross-board e-commerce platforms, and other mutual arrangements, etc. ChemLinked summarized the main points related to imported food:

1. Remote Foreign Food Facility Inspection

MFDS planned to conduct a remote on-site inspection of 460 foreign food facilities in 36 overseas countries amid the COVID-19 era. The authority will inspect the overseas facilities by document review or the electronic device "AR smart glasses". Note that MFDS also stated that they would suspend the import of food from the foreign food facilities failing to submit the documents or join the video review.

Document review

The exporting country's government shall conduct an on-site inspection and fill out a checklist of the inspection items,. The exporting country's government would then submit the checklist and other supporting documents to MFDS for further evaluation.


(Document Review Procedure)

Video review via electronic device “AR smart glasses”

MFDS would invite an interpreter to go around the overseas facility wearing the AR smart glasses, through which MFDS can simultaneously observe the facility situation online. Therefore, MFDS could conduct a real-time inspection of the foreign food facility.


(Video Review Procedure)

2. Mandatory Sanitary Certificate for Imported Livestock Products

Currently, exporting countries contracted with S. Korea government can voluntarily submit the sanitary certificate of the imported livestock products. Nevertheless, MFDS planned to tighten the management of imported livestock products and withdraw the above mentioned exemption. Thus, all imported livestock products need to provide the sanitary certificate. MFDS has already revealed the draft of the relevant provision 2 on March 25, 2021, for public opinion.

3. Food Purchased on Cross-board Ecommerce Platforms

Food purchased on cross-board e-commerce platforms, also known as Overseas Direct Purchase (ODP) food, refers to the imported food that consumers buy directly via an overseas online platform or by proxies on a domestic online platform. As the sales surged up dramatically in the past decade, South Korea announced to reinforce the management of food purchased on cross-board e-commerce platforms.

MFDS planned to supervise the safety of online purchased imported food in the following three stages:


>> Providing consumers with more safety information about the food purchased on cross-board Ecommerce platforms


>>  Designating the domestic online platforms as responsible entities for food safety control  

Import Declaration

>> Enhancing the import inspection by increasing the inspection staffs


>> Conducting safety assessment to ban the food with prohibited materials

Distribution Step

>> Monitoring the safety issue of food purchased on cross-board Ecommerce platforms


>> Enforcing harsher punishments for selling hazardous food


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