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South Korea Revises the Food Labeling Regulation

MFDS (Ministry of Food and Drug Safety) disclosed the latest version of the Enforcement Rule of Act on Labeling and Advertising of Foods 1 on May 27, 2021. The regulation newly requires 29 food categories to place the "nutrition facts label", and specifies the "general food with function claims" to go through a "voluntary review of labeling or advertising" before marketing.

The main amendments are as follows:

1. Expanding the Scope of Foods to Place a "Nutrition Facts Label"

In an effort to help the citizens keep a nutritionally balanced diet and provide more nutrient information, the competent authority newly designated 29 categories (61 food items) to label the nutrition facts:

Newly Added 29 categories (61 food items)

Korean

English

     떡류

    Rice cake

     당류가공품

    Processed sugar

     두부류(두부, 유바, 가공두부)

    Tofu products (Tofu, dried bean curd,   processed tofu)

      묵류

    Jello

      식물성크림

    Vegetable cream

      다류 중 액상차

    Liquid tea

      발효식초

    Fermented vinegar

      소스류(소스, 마요네즈, 토마토케첩, 복합조미식품)

    Sauce products (sauce, mayonnaise,   tomato ketchup, complex seasoning)

     카레(카레(커리))

    Curry

      향신료조제품

    Spice products

      김치류(김칫속, 배추김치)

    Kimchi (Kimchi stuffing, cabbage kimchi)

      절임류(절임배추 제외)

      Pickle   (excluding pickled cabbage)

      조림류

    Boiled food with soy sauce or other   seasonings

      전분류(전분, 전분가공품)

      Starch   products (starch, processed starch products)

     밀가루류(밀가루, 영양강화밀가루)

    Flour products (flour, enriched flour)

      땅콩 또는 견과류가공품류(땅콩버터, 땅콩 또는 견과류가공품)

    Processed peanut or nut products (peanut   butter, processed peanut or nut products)

      기타농산가공품류(과․채가공품, 곡류가공품, 두류가공품, 서류가공품, 기타농산가공품)

    Other processed agricultural products   (processed vegetable and fruit products, processed grain products, processed   bean products, processed potato products, other processed agricultural   products)

      베이컨류

    Bacon

      건조저장육류

    Dried meat

      양념육류(양념육, 분쇄가공육제품)

    Seasoned meat products (seasoned meat,   processed ground meat products)

      식육추출가공품

    Processed meat extract products

      식육함유가공품

    Processed food containing meat

     알가공품류(전란액, 난황액, 난백액, 전란분, 난황분, 난백액, 알가열제품, 피단, 알함유가공품)

    Processed egg products (whole egg liquid,   egg yolk liquid, egg white liquid, whole egg powder, egg yolk powder, egg   white powder, heated egg products, preserved egg, processed food containing   egg)

      산양유

    Goat milk

     어육가공품류(어육살, 연육, 어육반제품, 어묵, 기타 어육가공품)

    Processed fish products (fish meat,   surimi, semi-processed fish meat products, fish tofu, other processed fish   products)

      젓갈류(젓갈, 양념젓갈, 액젓, 조미액젓)

    Salted and fermented seafoods (Salted and   fermented fish, seasoned fish, fish sauce, seasoned fish sauce)

      건포류(조미건어포, 건어포, 기타 건포류)

    Jerked meat (seasoned dried fish,   dried fish, other jerked meat)

      조미김

    Seasoned laver

      기타수산물가공품

    Other processed fish product

 MFDS also gave enterprises different grace periods according to the products' sales volume to ease enterprise's burden:

Sales Volume

Enforcement date

Over 12 billion KRW (about   1.08 million USD) (Kimchi: over 30 billion KRW, about 2.71 million   USD) in 2019

2022.1.1.

5 ~ 12 billion KRW (about 0.45 to   1.08 million USD) (Kimchi: 5 to 30 billion KRW, about 0.45 to   2.71 million USD)

2024.1.1.

Less than 5 billion KRW   (about 0.45 million USD)

2026.1.1.

Up to now, 176 items under 46 food categories are subject to the “nutrition facts label”. The complete list of these foods can be found in the Attached Table 4 of the Enforcement Rule of Act on Labeling and Advertising of Foods2 in Korean. (Contact us at food@chemlinked.com for translation service.)

2. Label and Advertisements Review of “General Food with Function Claims”

After MFDS permitted the general food to label with the "function claims"3 in 2020, an increasing number of relevant products were launched, such as "calcium tofu beneficial to bones", "probiotic yogurts beneficial to gut health", etc.

However, adverting a general food product as a product with "health function efficacy" may cause consumers' misunderstanding. To provide accurate food safety information to consumers, MFDS required the enterprises to take a "voluntary review of labeling or advertising" from a "voluntary review board" before labeling and advertising.

 The enterprises need to submit documents to prove the contents to label or advertise are true. The documents can be any of the following:

a) Test or investigation report

b) Expert’s advice

c) Academic literature

d) Other required documents

 As of now, three food categories are required to undergo a "voluntary review of labeling or advertising":

1. Food for special purpose (FSP)

2. Health functional food (HFF)

3. General food with function claims


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