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‘Safety is K-food’s forte,’ says ministerBy Kim Arin
Published : Dec. 12, 2022 - 15:54
OSONG, North Chungcheong Province -- Safety and quality are what make Korean food products stand out, according to Minister of Food and Drug Safety Oh Yu-kyoung.
“I believe the competitive edge that Korean food products have in the global market is their safety and high quality,” Oh said in an interview with The Korea Herald.
“The interest in Korean culture has extended beyond K-pop or K-dramas. Now we’re seeing a growing popularity of Korean food -- hence I think the name ‘K-food,’” she said. “In fact, exports of Korean food products amounted to a record $11.4 billion last year, exceeding the billion-dollar mark for the first time.”
In a survey by a Culture Ministry foundation published in February, food was ranked the most popular Korean cultural content among international consumers over K-pop.
The food export market “isn’t all too favorable,” however, according to the minister.
“In many places, non-tariff barriers for food are rising,” she said. In China, for example, pre-registration of food exporters was made mandatory.
“So the role of the ministry is to gather information on updates in regulations around the world and negotiate with our export partners, and lower the hurdles for Korean exporters in reaching overseas markets,” she said.
In a recent feat, the European Union exempted Korean dietary supplements from its strengthened regulations on the use of ethylene oxide in food additives.
Oh said that she believes safety remains the key to securing the trust of international consumers in Korean food products.
Korea, as an active participant in the work of Codex Alimentarius -- the food code recognized by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization -- strives to harmonize domestic standards with international ones, she said.
She added that the ministry, which also oversees the safety management of food products being exported and issues certificates for exporters, is “devoted to keeping the reputation of K-food as safe.”
The ministry’s work on food safety in Korea has faced a new challenge with the onset of COVID-19.
Food delivery services, which were already common here, soared over the course of the pandemic. “We are running inspections on foods sold online. We will be working closely with delivery platforms to make sure everything is up to standard,” the minister said.
Starting next year, the ministry is trying out a new food-dating system to prevent food waste.
“The date labels that we have on foods, called 'expiration' or 'best before' dates, confuse consumers into thinking that they have gone bad past those dates when they are still good to eat,” she said.
“The new labels will tell consumers until when the foods are actually safe to eat.”
Oh, who was a pharmacy professor at Seoul National University, took office in May.
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