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South Korea to Bring in HACCP Accreditation for Foreign Food Facilities

The registration mechanism of Good Foreign Food Facilities in Korea was replaced by the newly introduced HACCP accreditation for overseas food facilities. A comprehensive food importation system will be established to supervise food safety at all stages.

Korea MFDS amended theSpecial Act on Imported Food Safety Control [1] (Imported Food Act) on April 7, 2020. The main contents are:

1. HACCP Introduced for Foreign Food Facilities

To register a Foreign Food Facility (FFF) is the first step to export food to South Korea (Click here to find the detailed registration method). If a facility met the registration criteria of Good Foreign Food Facilities, it could be registered as a "Good Foreign Food Facility" and was eligible for preferential policies, such as exemption from the scope of random samples to be inspected, getting publicity on MFDS' website, etc., as stipulated in the previous version of Imported Food Act.

However, to strengthen the food safety control on imported foods, MFDS abolished the registration system of "Good Foreign Food Facility" and replaced it with a newly introduced HACCP accreditation mechanism. As stipulated in the amendment, when a FFF is in compliance with the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) [2], it can be confirmed as a "Foreign Food Facility applicable for HACCP," the validity period of which is three years. If the government of the exporting country drafts a HACCP standard separately after consulting with MFDS, it can be accepted instead of the Korean accreditation.

MFDS no longer uses the "Good Foreign Food Facility" system. The scrapping of this system also means that associated preferential policies have also been abolished. According to the amendment, from October 2021, food products with high risks specified by MFDS can be exported to South Korea only when they are manufactured, processed, packaged, stored, etc. by a "Foreign Food Facility with HACCP accreditation." From this aspect, the designation "Foreign Food Facility applicable for HACCP" is similar to a license for managing high-risk food products.

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This amendment in the Imported Food Act will come into force from October 8, 2020. It is expected that more details will be specified in its subordinate rules, such as the scope of specified high-risk food, the methods and procedure of confirmation, the related mark of a "Foreign Food Facility applicable for HACCP," and so on. (Click here to see the law hierarchy of Imported Food Act) Based on experience, the amendments in the subordinate rules may be released before October 8, when the amendments of the main act come into force.

2. A “Comprehensive Food Importation System” for Safety Control

In order to control the safety of imported food effectively, MFDS also established a Comprehensive Food Importation System for Imported Food. This amendment will come into force on October 8, 2020, as well. 

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