New standards: GMP and traceability system mandatory for functional health foods in South Korea

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

In South Korea, functional health foods manufacturers will need to manufacture their products according to the GMP standard from December this year. ©Getty Images
In South Korea, functional health foods manufacturers will need to manufacture their products according to the GMP standard from December this year. ©Getty Images

Related tags: South korea, Good manufacturing practice, Traceability

South Korea has introduced new regulations for functional health foods, including the need for manufacturers to adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

Starting from this month, a new piece of policy will be enacted almost every month all the way through to December.

A total of nine new policies pertaining to food and health foods was announced by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) just before the end of last year.  

Of note to the health foods industry is the need to manufacture the products according to the GMP standard.

This will take place from December this year with the purpose of ensuring product safety.

The MFDS had previously conducted a two-week public consultation regarding GMP standards of functional health foods last year.

Also in December, it will be mandatory for manufacturers to implement the HACCP system when producing foods for children.

On the other hand, as a way to strengthen safety management, the authorities will investigate functional health foods linked with reported cases of abnormal side-effects from May.

To ensure efficient product safety recall, functional food manufacturers that recorded sales of over KRW$100m in year 2018 are required to implement product traceability system from June.

Complaint cases

There were 3,754 complaints related to the consumption of functional health foods between 2015 and August 2019.

Following four consecutive years of a surge in reported cases, there was a dip in the trend between 2018 and last year.

In 2015, 502 complaints were received, which grew to 696 in 2016, 874 in 2017, and 964 in 2018. As of August 2019, the figure was 718, reported local media The Korea Economic Daily.

By product category, nutrient supplements had the highest number of complaints at 1,135 cases, followed by probiotics (635), health maintenance products containing DHA, BPA (298), red ginseng products (184), garcinia cambogia (176), complex extract products (142), and fructo-oligosaccharides (138).


This set of new regulations also pertain to imported products.

From this month, importers with a good track record of policy compliance can enjoy preferential benefits.

As an administrative measure, the authorities will utilise technology such as AI to track the movement of imported foods from the place of origin to the final product circulation with South Korea from February.

In March, a food safety information website will be set up for consumers to check the product information. 

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