The Korea Herald


Agency pushes to label junk foods as ‘red’


Published : May 28, 2010 - 10:56

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A state food safety agency is seeking to label more than 70 percent of chocolate and hamburger products with a “red traffic light” marker to indicate that they are unhealthy, officials said yesterday.

The Korea Food and Drug Administration revealed a draft plan for its system, under which depending on the amount of unhealthy ingredients in food products, three labels -- colored red, yellow or green -- will be attached to the packaging of food items.

The plan, which the KFDA seeks to begin implementing at the beginning of next year, was presented at an academic seminar held at the Korea International Exhibition Center in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province.

“By clearly showing to the children what nutrients the foods they eat contain, the system will help them better manage their eating patterns. It will be used for nutrition education,” Park Hye-kyung, director of the nutrition policy division at the KFDA, told The Korea Herald.

The proposed system has drawn the ire of local food companies. But, a KFDA official said under a special law on “the safe management of children’s dietary life,” which was enacted last year, it is not mandatory for companies to attach the labels.

“It is the minimal standards that we ‘recommend.’ We will see whether it is an effective measure or not. We will, then, decide whether to make it mandatory or further expand it. We have tried to solicit opinions from companies,” Park said.

Called the “traffic light label system,” the plan focuses mainly on the amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and sodium contained in certain products.

According to the plan, a red traffic light label is to be attached to a snack if one serving contains more than 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat or 17 grams of sugar.

If a meal contains more than 12 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat or 600 miligrams of sodium per serving, it will also get a red label.

The KFDA found based on its simulation tests that at least 74 percent of chocolate products, 58 percent of ice cream products and 42 percent of bread would be labeled with a red traffic light under the new plan.

It also found that some 76 percent of hamburgers and sandwiches would receive red light labels.

By Song Sang-ho  (

초콜릿, 햄버거에 '적색등' 붙인다

내년부터 초콜릿과 햄버거 제품 70% 이상에 건강에 좋지 않다는 의미의 '빨간 신호등'이 표시될 것 으로 보인다. 

식품의약품안전청은 14일 고양시 한국국제전시장에서 어린이 기호식품 영양성분에 대해 비만 위험도를 색으로 표시하는 ‘신호등 표시제’ 기준 초안을 공개했다. 

내년 1월부터 어린이가 즐겨 먹는 식품의 영양소별 함량을 적, 녹, 황 3단계로 표시하도록 하는 것이다.  신호등 표시제는 지나치게 많이 섭취하면 건강에 해로운 총지방, 포화지방, 당류, 나트륨을 대상으로 우선 시행된다.

식약청이 마련한 기준에 따르면 이 기준이 적용되면 초콜릿은 최소 74%, 아이스크림은은 58%, 빵류는 42%, 햄버거·샌드위치는 76%가 적색 표시를 해야 한다고 파악했다. 

  이러한 '신호등 표시' 기준에 대해 식품업계는 '낙인'을 찍는 것이라며  적색으 로 표시하는 기준을 완화해 달라는 입장인 것으로 전해졌다.