The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) said the changes were made to ease manufacturing standards so that various health functional foods made with advanced manufacturing technology could be developed.
One of the key changes, is the expansion of dosage formats for propolis extract which has oral antimicrobial properties.
The ministry said that propolis extract could be made in any format for “direct contact with the mouth.”
At present, propolis extract can could be made into sprays, tinctures, and chewable soft capsules. The new rules will open the market to propolis extract products to more forms, including jelly and liquid.
On the other hand, the ministry said that the upper limit of 20 functional raw materials would be removed and that it intends to expand the list of functional raw materials that could be used in health functional foods.
Currently, this list includes ginseng and red ginseng.
On the other hand, saw palmetto fruit extract, will see wording of precautions associated to its use will now include “anti-coagulant” to better inform consumers information on concomitant medications.
The saw palmetto fruit is used in TCM to treat urological diseases and is often used as a supplement ingredient. A recent study by Beijing Gingko-Group Japan (BGG Japan) claimed that the consumption of saw palmetto fruit extract was safe in healthy adults even at excessive levels.
Moving forward, the ministry said it would continue to “improve the standards of health functional foods in order to reinforce the safety of functional foods and resolve industrial difficulties.”
Functional claims on general foods
As for the much talked-about plan on implementing functional health claims on general foods, it might be implemented soon.
According to regulatory consultancy CIRS Group Korea, it could be introduced in as early as April.
“The food industry has welcomed the implementation of functional health claims system. Previously, only health foods and dietary supplements can bear functional health claims.
“This can help to develop and launch more types of highly functional foods, which is beneficial for the development of the foods industry,” Kyungmi Park, junior consultant told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Park added that this could also boost the consumption of processed agricultural foods. This is because when agriculture products are recognised as a functional raw material for use in general foods, this will boost the market demand.
Moving forward, it is expected that the South Korean regulator will make more announcement regarding functional health foods standards – almost every month till December this year.
Last month, the regulator said it was mandatory for health foods manufacturers to manufacture their products according to the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
In December, it will also be required to implement the HACCP system when producing eight types of children foods, ranging from foods for special uses, biscuits, sweets, bread, chocolate, instant foods, and noodles etc.