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Food Origin Disclosure Rules Announced

Posted March. 06, 2006 03:01,   


Starting from the end of March, foods such as melons, bread, and packaged radishes and Chinese cabbage will need to have their place of origin clearly marked. In addition, in the case of processed foods, the distinction between those that use all-Korean ingredients and just some Korean ingredients will become clearer, according to a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry announcement yesterday.

The ministry’s announcement of its “Agricultural Products’ Place of Origin Indication Method Revision” yesterday increases the number of agricultural products that require an indication of place of origin from 145 to 160 types, and 121 to 209 in cases of processed foods.

Fifteen agricultural products were added to the list of foods required to display their place of origin, including Chinese cabbage, radishes, cabbage, leeks, melons, strawberries, peaches, plums, dried persimmons, sanghwang mushrooms, and cultivated wild ginseng.

Chinese cabbage, radishes, cabbage, and leeks only have to display their place of origin if they are packed. So leeks, Chinese cabbage or radish stacked and sold in open stands at discount stores and markets are not required to do so, as is currently the case.

Until now, agricultural products did not need to indicate their places of origin, and some producers arbitrarily labeled their produce as “Jeonbuk Gochang-gun watermelons” or “Gyeongbuk Seongju-gun melons.”

A number of processed foods, including bread, olive oil, buckwheat noodles, packed fried foods and bento boxes were added to the ministry’s list of foods requiring a place of origin declaration. For now, only standard bread types are included on the list, but in the future, all types of baked goods, such as donuts, red bean bread, and cakes will also be included.

Considering that it will take time to remake packaging for processed foods, the new place of origin regulations will be deferred for one year for processed food.

If the obligatory indication of place origin is not declared, producers will be subject to a fine up to 10 million won.

Not All “Korean Origin” Foods Are the Same—

Processed foods now have to disclose whether their ingredients are of Korean origin or not.

For example, there is kimchi being sold on the market that uses Chinese condiments, but that just calls itself “Chinese cabbage.”

From now on, if all the ingredients used to make kimchi are Korean, it will state, “Place of Origin of Ingredients: Korea.” Kimchi that is only labeled, “Chinese cabbage” (Korean) is likely made from imported ingredients.

A new standard that defines Korean and imported foods depending on the level of processing will also be adopted.

For example, if vegetables or mushrooms are grown in Korea with imported spores, then they are considered Korean. But if Chinese kimchi is imported and condiments are added in Korea, it will still be considered of Chinese origin.