Safety first? South Korea proposes new use precautions for ginseng, milk thistle, alongside maltodextrin intake changes

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

The South Korean authorities have proposed new precautionary statements for the milk thistle plant. © Getty Images
The South Korean authorities have proposed new precautionary statements for the milk thistle plant. © Getty Images

Related tags: MFDS, South korea, Ginseng

The South Korean authorities have proposed new precautionary information for eight functional ingredients, including ginseng and milk thistle, as well as adjusting the daily intake level of indigestible maltodextrin and aloe gel.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) proposed the changes​ after conducting a safety and functionality study​ last year. The proposed changes are open for public consultation which ends on August 10.

The eight functional ingredients affected are ginseng, red ginseng, chlorella, milk thistle extract, marigold extract, indigestible maltodextrin, aloe gel, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM).

The precautions were proposed mainly to protect individuals who are allergic to the ingredients, suffering from certain diseases, taking certain medications, and individuals from vulnerable groups.

For example, for ginseng and red ginseng, the regulator proposed to add in the precaution statement “individuals with an allergy may develop hypersensitivity reactions”.

At the moment, the precaution for the two ingredients is “be careful when taking diabetes medications and blood anticoagulants.”

For milk thistle extract, marigold extract, and aloe gel, the MFDS proposed that children, pregnant, and lactating women should avoid consumption of these three ingredients.

For marigold extract and aloe gel, it also proposed to add in the statements “smokers shall consult a specialist before consumption” ​and “consult a specialist if you have kidney or liver disease or are taking diabetes medication”​ respectively. 

On the other hand, the precaution statement “individuals with kidney disease should consult a specialist before consumption”​ was proposed for MSM.

Products containing all these ingredients were also proposed to warn consumers to stop consumption and consult a specialist when an adverse reaction occurs.

Changes to intake amount

The ministry also proposed changes to the daily intake of indigestible maltodextrin and aloe gel.

For a product containing indigestible maltodextrin and claim that it may help suppress postprandial blood sugar rise, it should contain four grams to 30g of dietary fiber from indigestible maltodextrin. At the moment, the required amount of dietary fiber to make the claim is between 11.9g and 30g.

It also proposed to adjust the daily intake amount of dietary fiber from indigestible maltodextrin for products that claim to improve blood triglyceride level and assist smooth bowel movements.

On the other hand, specific daily intake amount for aloe gel has been proposed for it to make certain claims. 

For example, in order to make the claim “may help skin health”, the product should contain between 100 and 420 mg of aloe gel in the form of total polysaccharide. 

To make the claim “may help intestinal health” or “may help to enhance immunity”, there should be between 110 and 125 mg or between 100 and 290mg of aloe gel in the form of total polysaccharide respectively.

At the moment, the only daily intake requirement for products containing aloe gel is to contain between 100 and 420mg of aloe gel in the form of total polysaccharide.

Other changes

Other changes, such as using menaquinone (vitamin K2) as the raw material for manufacturing vitamin K was proposed.

The ministry also suggested to lower the permitted amount of lead in chlorella from 3mg/kg to 1mg/kg.

A new method for analysing catechin and caffeine content would also be established in response to problems caused by excessive consumption of the two compounds. 

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