Less than half Korean health functional foods causing adverse events recalled in past 4.5 years – regulator

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Less than half of the Health Functional Foods (HFF) reported to have caused adverse health events were recalled in South Korea between 2018 and June this year.  ©Getty Images
Less than half of the Health Functional Foods (HFF) reported to have caused adverse health events were recalled in South Korea between 2018 and June this year. ©Getty Images

Related tags: recall, Inspection, health functional foods

Less than half of the Health Functional Foods (HFF) reported to have caused adverse health events were recalled in South Korea between 2018 and June this year, according to official data.

Over the past five years, 31.85 tonnes of HFF were identified as hazardous products, but only 13.61 tonnes – amounting to 43 per cent – were recalled.

These products were recalled during market inspection due to reasons such as exceeding the expiry date and product contents not tallying with data submitted by the manufacturers etc. 

The data was revealed by assemblyman Kim Won-I through the document ‘Reporting Status of Abnormal Cases of Health Functional Foods in the Last 5 Years”, with the data compiled by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS).

A total of 8,410 cases of side effects involving HFF were reported between 2018 and June this year.

The number of reported cases was up 18.6 per cent from 1,748 in 2018 to 2,073 last year.

Indigestion was the most common reported side effect, with 3,985 cases. This is followed by itching with 1,516 cases and weight gain with 1,068 cases.

In this period, dietary supplements were associated with the highest number of adverse events, accounting for 1,750 cases – equivalent to 30.2 per cent of all cases.

This was followed by probiotics at 663 cases (11.4 per cent), DHA/EPA-containing oil at 518 cases (8.9 per cent), fructo-oligosaccharides at 426 cases (7.3 per cent), and methysulfonylmethane (MSM) at four per cent.

Another 154 cases (2.7 per cent) involved red ginseng, which was also reported to be the most popular HFF in the country last year based on the production value.

Zooming into the first six months of this year, there were 204 cases of adverse events reported for dietary supplements, while this figure was 499 for the whole of last year.

There were also 47 and 87 adverse events reported for probiotics and EPA/DHA products respectively, while these figures were 127 and 159 for the whole of last year.

“Recently, as the consumption of health functional foods in children and adults has increased rapidly, the corresponding reports of adverse reactions [arising from consuming these products] have also increased rapidly.

“We will have to work hard to ensure that people can consume these products safely through the establishment of a system for harmful products distributed in the market to be retrieved quickly and accurately,” ​Kim said.

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