The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said Wednesday the European Union has decided to ease import regulations for Korean ramen products, 18 months after a mishap with a carcinogen in ramen imports sent to Europe.
According to the ministry, the EU will be easing the inspection of ethylene oxide in imported Korean ramen products starting in July. EO, which is majorly used as a fumigant and sterilizing agent, is classified by the World Health Organization as a potential carcinogen.
The EU strengthened its standard of EO inspection for Korean ramen imports in February 2022, after the chemical was detected above the standard level in Paldo's EU exports of Paldo Rabokki Noodle and Nongshim's Seafood Ramyun in August 2021.
Korean ramen exporters had since been obligated to conduct additional certified tests and submit inspection results, along with certificates issued by the Korean government.
The enhanced rules greatly set back performance for Korean ramen exports after years of upbeat sales overseas with an annual growth rate of 39.5 percent. But the export figure dropped to on-year growth of 17.7 percent last year, after the export barriers were imposed by the EU.
The ministry said it was been putting in all efforts to have the regulations eased, including measures to appeal to the fact that EO had not been detected in Korean ramen exports to the EU in the second half of last year, and it recently succeeded in obtaining approval from the EU to ease regulations against Korean ramen exports.
"Only about 5.5 percent of all cases were found to have been cleared to have their regulations from the EU eased within the period of 18 months, and the results of this measure were achieved in a short period of time due to the Korean government's efforts to resolve difficulties in the domestic food industry," an official from the ministry commented.
He added that under this measure, the costs used for EO inspection and product storage are estimated to sharply decrease, and companies exporting ramen to the EU are expected to increase ramen exports by more than $18 million.
"The Ministry of Food will continue to do its best to improve the regulatory system at the global standard level, and proactively respond to regulatory changes under a solid cooperative system with major trading partners, to contribute to the revitalization of exports in the domestic food industry," the official said.