Bitter krill: South Korean consumers petition for inspection on imported products amid scandals

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Over 200 South Korean consumers have filed a petition to the MFDS to conduct inspection on imported krill oil products. ©Getty Images
Over 200 South Korean consumers have filed a petition to the MFDS to conduct inspection on imported krill oil products. ©Getty Images

Related tags: South korea, Krill oil, Inspection

South Korean consumers have petitioned the country’s Ministry of Foods and Drug Safety (MFDS) to inspect imported krill oil products, amid a string of scandals in the past year.

The MFDS said​ that it would be inspecting imported krill oil from this month till October.

A total of 112 imported products from 37 overseas manufacturers will be inspected, and special emphasis will be placed on examining whether the products contain oil and fats that are not from krill.

The most recent trouble plaguing South Korea’s krill oil market was the presence of products that contained vegetable oil and other oil and fat blends​ when claiming to be a “100 per cent” krill oil product on the labelling. In that round of inspection, four out of 26 products sold on Naver Shopping website were found to contain linoleic acid present in vegetable oil and other types of oils and fats.

Last June​, 12 out of 41 krill oil products were found to contain banned substances or excessive use of solvents.

Krill oil is not recognised as a Health Functional Food in South Korea.

The MFDS said the string of scandals has led to 232 citizens petitioning through the National Petition Safety Inspection System​ to urge authorities in inspecting imported krill oil products.

The MFDS said it has decided to adopt the citizens’ petition. 

“If the inspection results differ from the products’ indicated content, such as the presence of other fats and oils in products that claimed to be ‘100 per cent krill oil’, we will promptly take administrative measures, such as unfair labelling, advertisement or false import declaration on these products and plan to make the results public,” ​the MFDS said.

Dr Frank Kim, founder and CEO of SEAH Bio – a South Korea-based regulatory consultancy said that krill oil suppliers have been making “great efforts” ​to market its health benefits, but krill oil was still not recognised as a Health Functional Food.

“One way is to proceed as a general food without health claim, but some companies eventually added some sort of health claims when advertising the products.  

“The MFDS has been monitoring these types of non-compliance exaggerated claims. Therefore, consumers’ interest has been declining since there are various negative announcements about krill oil recently by the MFDS,”​ he said.  

South Korea currently has a year-long policy ​of inspecting all imported Antarctic krill products, including supplements. The policy will end on 31st​ of this month. 

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