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South Korea Updates the Food Code: Aiming to Open up More Opportunities

MFDS modified several categories’ definitions and specifications to open more opportunities. Five new food raw materials and the requirements of two pathogenic bacteria are added. The plant raw material categorization and food storage and distribution standard are optimized.

MFDS announced the amendment to the Food Code 1 on March 25, 2021. The new version brought changes in numerous aspects, including food definition, categorization, storage and distribution standards, new food materials, and MRLs.

1. Definition and Specification

South Korean competent authority modified several categories' definitions and specifications to open more opportunities.

(1) Candy

Juice can be used for the raw material of candy and its definition is revised as below (highlighted in red)

“Candy refers to sweets, caramel, sweet bean jelly (양갱), jelly, and other processed food that tastes sweet, whose main material is sugar, sugar-alcohol, bean paste, juice, and other sugary materials.” 

(2) Cocoa Product and Chocolate

The new version of Food Code clarified the usage of alcohol in cocoa product and chocolate:



Alcohol is prohibited from using. Nevertheless, alcohol less than 1% can be added to the product for adjusting the food’s taste, flavor, or deodorizing.

Alcohol is prohibited from using. Nevertheless, alcohol less than 1% can be added to enhance the food's flavor.

(3) Mayonnaise

The permitted raw materials to produce mayonnaise are expanded. Previously, the raw materials are limited to oil, egg yolk, egg white, vinegar, juice, hydrolyzed protein, salt, sugar, and spices. After the revision, mayonnaise can be manufactured with other food or food additives as long as the main materials are oil, egg, and vinegar/juice.

(4) Chili Powder

The dried red pepper smashed into big pieces can be sorted as chili powder. Previously, only finely pulverized dried red pepper can be defined as chili powder. 

(5) Alcohol

The allowable additives for manufacturing or fermenting alcohol shall align with the specifications in the Liquor Tax Act 2.

2. New Food Materials

MFDS permitted five new materials, enlarging the permitted Food Raw Material Inventory.



New Plant Raw Materials

1. Ulleungdo broad-leaf allium (Allium ulleungense H.J.Choi & N.Friesen)

2. Witloof (Cichorium intybus L. var. foliosum)

New Animal Raw Materials

3. Giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon)

4. Pig faced leather jacket (Paramonacanthus Choirocephalus)

5. Starry triggerfish (Abalistes stellaris)

3. Plant Raw Material Categorization

MFDS clarified the belongings of some plant raw materials subject to ambiguous classification.






Newly add: Amaranth (seed)



Newly add: Maca, Yacon

Nut seeds

Peanut and Nuts

Newly add: Brazilian nut

Beverage and sweet seeds

Newly add: Oriental raisin (fruit)


Berry fruits

Newly add: Rowan(fruit)

Tropical fruits

Newly add: Papaw(fruit)


Leafy vegetables

Newly add: Cudrania Tricuspidata (leaf), Goatsbeard/Aruncus dioicus, Witlof/Chicon;

Change "Aster glehni/Amur wallflower" to"Aster yomena (including Aster glehni/Amur wallflower";

Change "Chicory/Endive (leaf)" to "Chicory (leaf) (including Endive)"



Newly add: Sparassis crispa

Other plants

Newly add: Rowan tree (bark)

4. Pathogens Requirement in Fishery Products

As the number of food safety issues caused by vibrio vulnificus keeps growing in South Korea, MFDS newly stipulated the specification of "Vibrio vulnificus" and "Vibrio cholera" in directly edible fishery products to enhance food safety control.

The specifications of Vibrio vulnificus (비브리오 패혈증균), Vibrio cholera (비브리오 콜레라) are:

n=5, c=0, m=0/25g

(n = Number of samples taken;

c = Maximum number of samples out of n that may exceed the value set for m;

m = Analytical value that differentiates good quality from marginally acceptable quality.)

The product is qualified when the Vibrio vulnificus or Vibrio cholera, in the 25 g taken from each of the 5 samples, is detected as 0, i.e., both of the Bacteria should be negative in directly edible seafood

5. Storage and Distribution Standards

MFDS optimized the structure of food storage and distribution standard for better readability. The randomly listed items were rearranged as the general standard, storage and distribution temperature, storage and distribution method, and the establishment of sell-by dates.

6. MRL of Pesticide and Veterinary Drug

The latest version of Food Code also updated the Maximum Residual Limits (MRL) of seventy-nine pesticides in agricultural products, twenty-eight pesticides in livestock and fishery products, and twenty-one veterinary drugs in food.

7. Test Methods

Test methods of Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio cholera were newly inserted. The test methods for detecting the residual pesticides and veterinary drugs were modified along. Besides, the approach for calculating the Carbon isotopes proportion in honey was optimized.

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