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China-Made Kimchi Controversy Continues

Posted October. 01, 2005 07:43,   


Regarding the claims by Grand National Party lawmaker Ko Kyung-hwa that China-made kimchi contains five times higher the amount of lead than that of Korean kimchi, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) retorted her claim yesterday, saying, “Her claim has no statistical value because the selection and comparison of samples are flawed.”

The figure of China-made kimchi’s lead content that Ko disclosed was made after she bought 10 kinds of kimchi imported from China from an Internet shopping mall in September and asked the Research Institute of Public Health and Environment (RIPHE) to analyze them. The figure of local kimchi’s lead content was cited in a report, “The evaluation of contaminant intake and understanding them among Korean food,” released by the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) in 2002.

However, the KFDA insists that since the KHIDI’s 2002 materials are average figures calculated from figures of raw kimchi and kimchi stew’s lead content, it is not proper to compare them with the RIPHE’s result.

Lee Jong-ok, manager of the food contaminant team of the KFDA, said, “The KHIDI’s materials were designed to evaluate rough contaminant intake through food,” adding, “Given that kimchi’s lead content depends significantly on salted fish, this result made from only one kind of kimchi cannot be representative.”

Meanwhile, according to the Rural Development Administration (RDA) last year, there was no significant difference between the local kimchi’s lead content (0.30 ppm on average) and that of imported kimchi (0.36 ppm on average).

The KFDA added that even if we have China-made kimchi (that contained the highest amount of lead as the materials announced by Ko) three times a day, the total amount of lead is not harmful to us.

In response, Ko insisted, “I did not conduct an analysis of separate samples because kimchi that is sold at local markets is made mostly from Chinese materials,” adding, “The local kimchi the RDA used for analyzing is highly likely to be made from Chinese materials.”

Kang-Myoung Chang tesomiom@donga.com