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Gov’t tightens rules on sanitary pads, processed meat and packaging

Dec 28,2017
New product safety regulations set to go into effect next year will require manufacturers of women’s sanitary products to label their ingredients, processed meat producers to follow stricter government standards and markets to use bigger fonts on their food packaging.

“The new policies to be implemented in 2018 will enforce safety control on food, medical and sanitary products,” the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in a statement Wednesday, “as well as improving regulatory procedures not only directed related to safety.”

Cotton-based sanitary aids including menstrual pads will have to include all state-approved substances written on the package. Manufacturers of 19 disposable products including diapers, cotton swabs and wet wipes will have to submit reports to the government on the products’ manufacturing, importing and packaging conditions.

All types of processed meat, including ham, sausages and hamburger patties will have to receive the government’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (Haccp) recognition that approves a product as free from dangerous chemicals.

Starting next month, local markets will have to list the ingredients of all food products with at least 10-point font. In the past, expiration dates had to be written with at least 12-point font, but other information was allowed to be written with under 10-point font.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety had an unusually busy year in 2017 with its hands tied on multiple cases of food and product safety scares, from pesticide-contaminated eggs and harmful sanitary pads to McDonald’s tainted bulgogi burgers.

Despite the ministry’s follow-up measures, including investigations and substance tests, the public has remained dubious of the government’s preventative measures. The criticism was particularly harsh because the products in question were daily necessities that should have gone through more rigid screening.

In a separate meeting, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon and government officials in food safety, maritime safety and agriculture announced a set of policies on food safety. The three ministries had formed a task force to investigate problems in Korea’s food safety control since September.

The officials pointed to the practice of using factory-style cramped cages at chicken farms as the backdrop for illegal use of pesticides and blamed them for the contaminated eggs in August.

Under regulations that they hope to pass in 2019, farms found to be using illegal chemicals will be strictly punished and possibly even stripped of their business license.

Regulations on egg distribution will be enforced as well. Starting 2019, the government plans to inspect companies that distribute eggs to ensure they meet standards for cleaning, processing and packaging eggs.

The long-term goal is to encourage farms to engage in more environmentally-friendly practices like cage-free farming.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]