On Feb. 4, 2016, the Special Act on Imported Food Safety
Management (the "Imported Food Act") goes into effect. By
providing a unified piece of legislation that combines and refines
various provisions of disparate statutes ranging from the Food
Sanitation Act to the Health Foods Act to the Livestock Sanitation
Act, the Imported Food Act streamlines imported food safety
regulation in Korea. At the same time, the Imported Food Act
also revamps imported food safety regulation by shifting back the
primary point of regulation from the customs phase to the
production phase. Among the changes are new provisions
requiring registration and more rigorous onsite inspection of
overseas production sites.
1. Scope of the Imported Food Act
The table below summarizes various types of food that are
governed by the Imported Food Act.
Imported food, including produce and seafood, food additives,
and devices/containers/packages containingimported food(as defined
in Article 2 of the Food Sanitation Act)
Food, including processed food, containing raw materials or
ingredients that promote health(as defined in Article 3 of the
Health Foods Act)
Meat (including processed meat), dairy products, and egg
products(as defined in Article 2 of the Livestock Sanitation
Key provisions of the Imported Food Actare as follows.
1. Registration required for overseas production sites
(to go into effect on Aug. 4, 2016)
An importer, or a person establishing or operating
anoverseasfacility (including any ship) producing, processing,
packaging, or storing any food (excluding any livestock product) to
be imported into Korea must file with the Ministry of Food and Drug
Safety(the "Ministry") a registration indicating the
name, location, and production items of the overseasfacility.
In case of any failure to file a registration where required, or
in case of a false declaration, importation of the food products at
issue will bebarred and will also be subject to suspension of
business and/or a criminal sanction (a prison sentence not
exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding KRW 50 million
2. More rigorous inspection of overseas production
Where inspectionof an overseas production site is required to
prevent harm and ensure safety, the Ministry may conduct such
inspection after a discussion with the applicablenational
governmentor the overseas producer. Any refusal to submit to
an onsiteinspection request, or any serious problem revealed by an
onsite inspection, may result in revocation of an import license in
3. Sanitation evaluation and overseas officeregistration
–required for livestock products (to go into effect on Aug.
If a country or region has not been evaluated for sanitation
quality, a livestock product from that country or region may not be
imported into Korea. Any country or region approved for
importation under existing livestock regulation is deemed approved
for importation of livestock products.
Further, a registration is required for any overseas office
where livestock imported into Korea is slaughtered, processed, or
stored, or where livestock is milked for production, processing, or
storage of dairy productsimported into Korea. A person
establishing or operating such overseas office is required to file
a registration for that office prior to importation through the
government of the exporting country. In case any inspection
or confirmation is needed in regard to the registration, the
Ministry may conduct an onsite inspection. Any overseas
office approved under existing livestock regulation, or with a
record of having imported livestock products into Korea, is deemed
4. Registration of importer(effective onFeb. 4,
An importerof food, health food,or livestock product must file a
registration with the Ministry,but any importer already licensed,
approved,or registered under the existing statutes is deemed
As noted above, the Imported Food Actrequires, among others,
registration and onsite inspection of overseas sites producing food
products to be imported into Korea. As failure to comply with
these requirements may result in a criminal sanction –not to
mention revocation of an import license –in Korea, those
engaged in importation of food products into Korea are advised to
pay careful attention to relevant provisions of the Imported Food
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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