‘High nonconformity?’: South Korea starts year-long inspection of probiotics imported from US, Europe

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) has ordered a one-year long inspection order on certain probiotics imported from North America and Denmark.
South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) has ordered a one-year long inspection order on certain probiotics imported from North America and Denmark.

Related tags Inspection South korea

South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) has begun a one-year long inspection order on specific probiotics products imported from North America and Denmark.

The inspection order, which is in effect from September 30 to September 29 next year, focuses on Health Functional Food (HFF) using probiotics as functional ingredients.

Firms impacted by the inspection order are US-based firms Lifebloom Corp, Essel Biopharm, Melaleuca, Denmark-based Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes, and Canada-based Natural Immix Health Limited.

According to the MFDS,​ the inspection order was enacted “for imported food with high nonconformity or risk of harm,” ​and “to enhance the sense of responsibility for food safety and to secure the safety of imported food.”​ 

In particular, the aforementioned firms were selected due to “repeated occurrence of nonconformity as a result of customs clearance and distribution stage inspection.”

Last March, we reported that​ the MFDS had recalled two batches of probiotic capsules from Lifebloom and imported by Jinseong Holdings – for failing inspection tests.

A business operator who intends to import or sell these products must request an inspection agency designated by the MFDS to inspect the product.

They will then need to submit the results to the local Food and Drug Administration in charge of import declaration at the time of import.

For products that do not need to undergo inspection order, the importers would have to self-declare whether the products confirm to MFDS’ standards and specifications when clearing the customs.

Aside from probiotics, the MFDS has also identified other foods and ingredients for the year-long inspection order.

Between September 2020 and August 2021, all imported Antarctic krill products, including supplements, had to be proven safe​ before they could be successfully imported into South Korea. This was to ensure that certain preservatives and solvents do not exceed the stated limits.

Robust market

South Korea has one of the most robust probiotic market in the world.

According to the latest data from Lumina Intelligence, the country ranks third in terms of the number of consumers product review – behind only China and the US.

Over 1.3 million of product reviews were captured for probiotics in South Korea last year. In 2020, 459k reviews were captured.

However, the probiotic market is largely dominated by local players such as Chong Kun Dang which is behind the brand Lacto-Fit, CJ Cheijedang with its brand Byo and IIdong Pharmaceutical’s GQ Lab.

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