Go to contents

Random Checks to Enforce New Meat Labeling Rule

Posted July. 09, 2008 07:48,   


Restaurants across the country will be randomly checked to see if they comply with new regulations on marking the country of origin of the beef they use.

The Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry also said yesterday that a new committee will be formed for managing the country of origin marking for beef origin led by relevant agencies and ministries.

As the enforcement regulations was officially announced following their publication in the government gazette Monday, all restaurants and cafeterias around the country are obligated to mark the origin of beef they use. Doubts over its effectiveness linger, however.

○ Raising effectiveness via random checks

Restaurants must mark the country of origin for beef, pork, chicken, rice and kimchi.

The new rule took effect on beef and rice yesterday, while pork, chicken and kimchi will be subject to the regulation from December 22. For rice, restaurants must mark the origin of steamed rice but not for rice cake and rice noodles.

For Korean beef, they must demonstrate the type of meat and for imported meat, they must mark the country of origin.

The government is planning to check if restaurants larger than 100 square meters are complying with the new rule. But it will give smaller restaurants a grace period until September while promoting the new rules. Smaller restaurants that intentionally mismark the origin will face punishment, however.

Vice Agriculture Minister Park Deok-bae said, “The government is planning to develop a program that randomly checks restaurants. All relevant ministries, including the Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, will jointly use the program. Random selection is a measure to avoid redundant monitoring and to keep all restaurants alert.”

○ Consultative body of relevant ministries

The administration will also form a committee responsible for monitoring origin marking with staff from relevant ministries and agencies, including the Public Administration and Safety Ministry, the Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry and the Korea Food and Drug Administration. Committee members led by the Agriculture Ministry will share information and divide roles on origin marking.

Cash rewards will also go to people who report non-compliant restaurants. Reporting a restaurant that falsely marks the origin of its meat will net up to two million won as reward. The bounty is 50,000 won if someone reports a restaurant failing to mark the origin of its meat.

To prevent abuse of the reward system, no reward will be given for reporting a restaurant smaller than 100 square meters that did not mark the origin of its meat.

The Agriculture Ministry said 643,000 restaurants and cafeterias are subject to the new regulations.

Some 5,000 staff will monitor the restaurants through year’s end, including inspectors from the National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service, officials from local autonomous bodies and honorary inspectors from consumer organizations. From next year, a 650-member standing inspection team will do the job, fueling controversy over effectiveness.

Park said, “It is crucial that consumers check the labeling themselves. The new regulations will be more effective when the entire public share inspection duties.”

Some also argue that it is difficult to check the origin of a tiny amount of beef used in soups and side dishes.