Agenda Item 6.1 Conference Room Document 57
English only

second fao/who global forum of food safety regulators

Bangkok, Thailand, 12-14 October 2004

Food Control and Food Safety System in Korea

(Prepared by the Republic of Korea)

I. Introduction

The Republic of Korea (ROK) has a documented food safety policy integrating food safety with its national health and nutrition policies.

Presently the Food Sanitation Act, Meat and Poultry Products Processing Act, Dietary Health Supplements Act and its Ministerial Ordinances and Enforcement Decrees, and associated by-laws are in force at both central and local government levels. The provisions contained in these Acts cover requirements for prohibition of harmful, adulterated foods and the use of other hazardous substances in food, requirements for the safe use of food additives and packaging materials, requirements for food manufacturing facilities and employees, food imports and inspection procedures, recall and inspection guidelines, labeling regulations, and so forth. These standards and regulations are developed in line with other international standards and guidelines including Codex.

II. Official Agencies related to Food Safety

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) is one of the ministries responsible for overall food safety issues along with Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) which is responsible for the safety of meat and poultry products.

The Pharmaceutical and Food Policy Division, Health Policy Bureau of MOHW is responsible for the enactment and revision of the Food Sanitation Act and Dietary Health Supplement Act while Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA), an independent government agency, is responsible for the enforcement and implementation of these Acts by establishing specific standards and specifications for food and food additives.

The Food Safety Bureau of KFDA is responsible for establishing general food safety policies undertaking monitoring and surveillance for illegal and adulterated food, and supervising import food control. The newly established Dietary Health Supplements Division in accordance with the official announcement of the Dietary Health Supplement Act is responsible for approval and surveillance of dietary supplements.

The Food Standardization Department of KFDA sets up standards and specifications of general foods including nutrition, dietary supplements, food additives and safety evaluation of genetically modified foods. The Food Safety Evaluation Department is responsible for the evaluation of microorganisms, pesticides, contaminants including heavy metals and mycotoxins, and other packaging materials.

Six KFDA regional offices in Seoul, Busan, Gyeongin, Daegu, Gwangju and Daejeon are responsible for inspection, implementation, investigation of food manufacturing facilities and other related facilities. The National Institute of Toxicological Research under KFDA undertakes research on toxicological and pathological effects of foods, food additives, contaminants, and drugs.

Under the MAF, the Livestock Bureau is responsible for enactment and revision of the Meat and Poultry Products Processing Act and Livestock Sanitation Act while the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service (NVRQS) is responsible for implementation of the Acts. NVRQS has a number of divisions including the Livestock Products Safety & Inspection Department, the Animal Disease Control Department and the Animal Disease Research Department which are responsible for undertaking surveillance for illegal and adulterated livestock products, supervising imported livestock products, approving and monitoring veterinary drugs and quarantine against animal diseases. Moreover, their activities include on-site inspection in slaughterhouses, processing plants, milk storage premises, research and development of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems; analysis of products and approval of laboratories.

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is responsible for the fisheries and fishery products. The Fisheries Products Quality and Safety Division under the Fisheries Policy Bureau is in charge of making and implementing the comprehensive policy on fisheries, enacting and revising the Fishery Products Quality Control Act.

The National Fisheries Products Quality Inspection Service under the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is responsible for inspecting import and export of fisheries, Country-of-Origin labeling surveillance, and certification of fishery qualities.

The responsibilities and relations for these agents are summarized in Figure 1. Therefore, integration of those government bodies is undertaking to construct effective and intensive food safety control system, In near future, we will have sound and better control system then ever for food safety assurance.

III. Summary of experience and lessons learned

In response to a rapidly changing environment, food safety control system needs to be transformed. The existing system is now under growing pressure to be more scientific and efficient. It will be available to effective distribution of human, finance resources by unification of the food safety control authority. These would lead to increase the simplification and effectiveness of food safety control system for not only private industry but also government. It would, also increase the transparency, continuity, credibility and expectancy of the food safety control measures for all stakeholders by unification of the food safety control authority.

In order to ensure food safety, first of all food safety control system should be established based on risk analysis after thorough research and sufficient test done in a scientific and technical way. Food science is modern complex science covering various areas. Mainly risk assessments should be conducted with the experts from the academia, private industry and public institutes. However, when deciding the draft for regulations, guidelines or recommendations, it should be considered not only the results of risk assessment but also other factors, such as public perception, national legislative structure, international standard and other regulations of other countries.

Secondly, international harmonization is required in controlling food safety. With the wave of globalization sweeping the world, close cooperation in food safety control system among countries around the world is also required. Republic of Korea actively supports global efforts to harmonize with Codex standards in the food safety control system.

Lastly, much greater emphasis should be placed on consumers in food policies. A primary goal of food safety lies in protecting consumers’ health by preventing hazards and enhancing safety of food. Considering that the success of food safety policies largely depend on consumers’ perception of safety influenced by subjective or psychological factors, the effectiveness of the policies will not be guaranteed unless consumers are convinced of safety of food. Therefore, it is essential to enhance consumers’ confidence in food safety by ensuring transparency of the food safety policy making and encourages active participation of consumers.