Korea Focuses on Greater Control over Imported Food – Amendment to the Special Act on Imported Food Safety Control 2019

The Special Act on Imported Food Safety Control was recently amended and shall strengthen the on-site inspections of foreign establishments, which already export food to Korea, as well as those, which apply for registration of the importation of overseas food. The Amendment was proposed in early April 2019 and shall become effective upon promulgation. We expect substantially heightened risk for importers and an increase in the price of many imported goods.

Major Provisions of the Korean Amendment to the Special Act on Imported Food Safety Control

Food from facilities overseas, which is produced, manufactured, processed, treated, packaged and/or stored, before being imported to Korea, shall be subject to inspections initiated by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. In addition, overseas facilities, which intend to import livestock which are slaughtered, manufactured, processed, stored and/or milk is collected, shall also be required to be inspected upon request of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. Watch for increases in prices because of these added measures.

Comparison of the current Act versus the Amendment:

Suspension of Imported Food Products:

Current Act:

“Where the government of an exporting country or a foreign food facility refuses an on-site inspection […], or a hazard is likely to occur in imported food, […], the Minister of Food and Drug Safety may take measures to suspend the importation of imported food, etc. of the foreign food facility concerned.” (Art 6 (2) Special Act on Imported Food Safety Control)

“Where the foreign establishment refuses on-site inspection under Article 12 (2) or is found inappropriate as a result of on-site inspection;” (Subparagraph 3 of Art 13 (1) Special Act on Imported Food Safety Control)

Amendment:

“When a ‘foreign food facility’ or ‘foreign establishment’ […] refuses, disrupts, or avoids (including not responding to relevant officials without a justifiable reason) an on-site inspection, the minister of food and drug safety may take action(s) in order to suspend the import of food products from the relevant facility or establishment.”

On-site Inspections Due to the Application of Registration by a Foreign Food Importer and Registered Food Importers

Current Act:

“The Minister of Food and Drug Safety may conduct an on-site inspection of the registered foreign establishment in order to examine and verify the registration […].” (Art 12 (2) Special Act on Imported Food Safety Control)

Amendment:

“The minister of food and drug safety may conduct an on-site inspection of registered foreign establishments, as well as those that have applied for registration with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, in order to inspect and verify matters relating to the registration.”

Registration of Korean Food Companies, Which Export Overseas

Current Act:

“Necessary matters concerning procedures, etc. for filing an application for and issuing a health certificate, etc. […] shall be prescribed by Ordinance of the Prime Minister.” (Art 38 (3) Special Act on Imported Food Safety Control)

Amendment:

“When a person who intends to export a food product(s) to a foreign country needs to register their domestic food facility or establishment with the government of the foreign country, the minister of food and drug safety may support them by, for example, providing the foreign country’s government with the ROK’s food safety control system for exports.” (newly inserted)

We shall update the reader when more is known on this developing issue. Curious to hear if the reader believes these are necessary measures are mere protectionist measures.

by Barbara Goiser.

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