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Gov`t to beef up food safety controls

Posted March. 15, 2001 18:18,   


From now on, imported marine products such as blue crabs and live or dried fish will be required to undergo quarantine procedures. In addition, importers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) such as corn and beans will have to present documents drawn up by farmers proving their safety.

These and other initiatives were part of a plan adopted Thursday in a government-led meeting of related ministries as part of efforts to strengthen food safety controls. After the meeting, the government ordered each ministry to come up with and enforce specific action plans on the issue by the end of March.

The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) system is currently applied to products such as milk, fish, sausage and ham in order to ensure their safety in the manufacturing, processing, storage and distribution processes. But the government decided to expand the system to include instant food and non-boiled beverages such as juice, curry and soup. To ensure the safety of domestic marine products, the government decided to apply the HACCP system to land-based

nurseries for raising freshwater fish like Prussian carp or trout. To boost the safety of livestock products, the government will introduce the Good farm Administration Plan (GAP) system, under which the HACCP system will be applied from the stage of breeding livestock animals. The government will also determine the nature and quantity of pollutants in everyday food items as part of efforts to find out how many of them Koreans consume. Based on the results, the government plans to set permissible levels of heavy metals such as lead and mercury.

In order to strengthen controls over imported goods, the government plans to have register foreign plants that meet Korean safety regulations so as to allow imports of their products without the need for customs clearance procedures. The number of foreign safety inspection agencies will also be increased from the current 29 to 35.

The government will also tighten the safety controls on facilities like school cafeterias and hospital restaurants. The government plans to boost the effectiveness of the food-poisoning forecasting system by establishing and operating a central anti-food-poisoning team at the Korean Food and Drug Administration. Punishments for those caught producing and selling poor-quality foodstuffs will be strengthened from the present maximum of five years` imprisonment or up to 30 million won in fines to as much as seven years in jail and 100 million won in fines.