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S. Korea to boost safety of rice wine 'makgeolli'

South Korea plans to beef up safety guidelines for "makgeolli" amid the traditional rice wine's rising popularity at home and abroad, the government said Thursday.

   The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) said it plans to develop a standardized Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) model for makgeolli manufacturers during the first half of the year. HACCP is a global guideline for the food industry to prevent safety hazards.

   Under the plan, a set of guidelines for makgeolli making, from fermentation to distribution, will be distributed to the country's 804 manufacturers, the KFDA said.

   The move comes amid criticism that there are no general guidelines or standardized processes for making the traditional rice wine.

   "Ingredients and processes for making makgeolli differ among manufacturers. The new guidelines will provide a general direction for safety and hygiene while preserving the originality of various makgeollis," said a KFDA official.

   The government has also launched a quality certification program for makgeolli and other traditional liquors starting this month in a bid to boost sales.

   Demand for makgeolli has been continuously rising with overseas shipments totaling $19.1 million in 2010, up 204.2 percent from the previous year, according to government data.

(Yonhap News)