Korea to re-evaluate nine functional raw materials including theanine and Vit B6, C

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

South Korea's MFDS has been re-evaluating the functionality of previously approved raw materials since 2017. © Getty Images
South Korea's MFDS has been re-evaluating the functionality of previously approved raw materials since 2017. © Getty Images

Related tags MFDS South korea health functional foods

South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) is re-evaluating the health benefits of nine functional raw materials used in health functional foods (HFF).

They are banana leaf extract, gingko leaf extract, octacosanol, phosphatidylserine, guar gum / guar gum hydrolysate, theanine, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and natto culture.

The above was chosen because they have been recognised as functional raw materials for 10 years. Also, new information related to their safety and functionality has emerged.

“Depending on the results, functional approval could be cancelled, or measures such as [introducing] precautions for intake and daily dosage amount could be changed,” ​the MFDS said.  

At the moment, the nine materials are recognised for a variety of uses and could be manufactured as HFF without a separate certification process as their functionalities are already notified to the MFDS.

For example, the supplementation of banana leaf extract may help to reduce post-meal blood sugar increase, while gingko leaf extract is said to improve memory and could help with improving blood circulation.

On the other hand, phosphatidylserine, a phospholipid, is said to improve cognitive deterioration that occurs due to ageing. It could also maintain skin health from damage caused by UV rays, as well as maintaining the skin’s moisture.

Vitamin B6 is said to be necessary for protein and amino acid utilisation, as well as maintaining normal homocysteine levels in the blood.

Guar gum can claim to improve blood cholesterol level, restrict post-meal spike in blood sugar, proliferate beneficial bacteria in the intestines and aid bowel movement.

Vitamin C is recognised for being necessary for connective tissue formation and function maintenance. It is also necessary for iron absorption, acts as an antioxidant and is necessary to protect cells from free radicals.

Natto is said to help improve blood circulation and may also help individuals with high blood pressure, while theanine may help relieve tension caused by stress.

The re-evaluation is a yearly exercise conducted by the MFDS since 2017. Similar to last year’s exercise, results of the re-evaluation will be out in December.  

The findings of year 2022’s re-evaluation were recently published​, and the MFDS has decided to impose caution statements, warning pregnant, lactating women, and/or children to refrain from consuming the products containing co-enzyme Q10, squalene, oat fibre, and six other functional raw materials.

New heavy metal limits have also being imposed on raw materials such as chitosan / chito-oligosaccharide.

So far, 55 raw materials have undergone re-evaluation by the MFDS. 

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