South Korea to re-evaluate evening primrose seed extract and eight other raw materials

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A photo showing the pods and seeds of Oenothera biennis or the common evening primrose and its oil.  ©Getty Images
A photo showing the pods and seeds of Oenothera biennis or the common evening primrose and its oil. ©Getty Images

Related tags MFDS health functional foods evening primrose

South Korea is re-evaluating the safety and functionality of evening primrose seed extract and eight other raw materials that are used in health functional foods, said the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS).

The eight other raw materials are soybean isoflavone, guava leaf extract, lecithin, extract of the algae Haematococcus​, mucopolysaccharides and protein, reishi mushroom fruiting body extract, extract of the fruit Garcinia cambogia​, and collagen peptide.

Except for collagen peptide, which is individually recognised, all the other eight raw materials are already notified in the codes of health functional foods. 

The re-evaluation is a yearly exercise conducted since 2017 with the aim of ensuring the safety of health functional foods.

The process specifically looks at raw materials that have been recognised for their health functions for the past decade, or that new information regarding their safety and functionality has emerged.

“Once the re-evaluation is completed, based on the results, you (companies) can cancel the functional recognition or take actions such as changing the precaution statements regarding the use of health functional foods containing these raw materials, or change the daily intake amount,” the MFDS said.

Currently, both evening primrose seed extract and guava leaf extract are recognised for helping to suppress post-meal blood sugar spike.

Lecithin has been recognised for helping to improve blood cholesterol, mucopolysaccharide and protein for helping with joint and cartilage health, and Haematococcus​ extract for helping to improve eye fatigue.

Other raw materials on the list, such as soy isoflavone, is recognised for its benefits to bone health, reishi mushroom fruiting body extract for helping to improve blood circulation, and collagen peptide for helping to moisturise the skin, maintain skin health from damage caused by UV rays, and its benefits for joint and cartilage health.

Lastly, Garcinia cambogia​ extract is recognised for helping to reduce body fat by inhibiting the synthesis of carbohydrates into fats.

Commonly used in weight management products, the fruit extract was one of the 10 most imported health functional foods into South Korea​ last year. Import volume rose 58.8 per cent to 354 tonnes.

The MFDS also ran a public consultation​ on the consumption warnings, daily intake, and heavy metal limits on Garcinia cambogia​ extract last August.

Last year, vitamin C, vitamin B6, banana leaf extract, ginkgo leaf extract, octacosanol-containing oil, phosphatidylserine, guar gum / guar gum hydrolysate, theanine, and natto culture were re-evaluated as part of this exercise.

The MFDS eventually decided that vitamin C, for example, must display caution statements against overconsumption​, while the daily intake limit of octacosanol-containing oil is increased from 7mg to 40mg to 10mg to 40mg.

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