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South Korea Amends the Enforcement Rule of Food Labeling Act

Safety warnings are required on the food additive sodium nitrite. New administrative penalty is introduced. FSMP is subject to voluntary review of food labeling.

On August 24, 2021, South Korea disclosed the latest version of Enforcement Rule of Food Labeling Act1. The amendments are specified as below:

1. Sodium Nitrite to Label Safety Warning

Sodium nitrite is a common food additive used as color fixative and preservative. However, a higher intake of sodium nitrite is linked to risk to human health. Therefore, MFDS requires the enterprise to place the safety warning on the sodium nitrite's packaging. The Rule stipulates that after January 1, 2022, sodium nitrite will be required to be labelled with the following claims:

  • Keep out of the reach of children. (어린이 등의 손에 닿지 않는 곳에 보관하십시오)

  • Not for directly eating/drinking. (직접 먹거나 마시지 마십시오)

  • Skin or eye contact or inhalation can cause serious damage to the human body. (눈/피부에 닿거나 마실 경우 인체에 치명적인 손상을 입힐 수 있습니다.)

2. New Administrative Penalty

The Rule adds a new administrative penalty of business suspension. When the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) deems a food product's label or advertisement is likely to be false, they will require the business entity to submit relevant substantiation. Suppose the entity fails to submit the substantiation data and continues labeling or adverting the product as before. In that case, the authority will impose an administrative penalty of business suspension from 1 month to 3 months on the entity.

3. FSMP subject to Voluntary Review of Labeling

In 2020, the Food Code2 separates Food for Special Medical Purpose (FSMP) from the category of Food for Special Purpose. To keep in line with the categorizing change, the relevant provisions about FSMP need to be revised.

The Rule specifies that enterprises should conduct a voluntary review of labeling for FSMP, as previously the Food for Special Purpose, including FSMP, was subject to voluntary review of food labeling.

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