Food safety concerns frequent make headlines around the world as they are an important issue

Food safety concerns frequent make headlines around the world as they are an important issue. China faced backlash when a chemical called memalime was found in infant milk powder (Xiu & Klein, 2010) and then in 2011 clenbuterol was found in excess use in animal food production as well (Xue & Zhang, 2013). Europe had its own share of scandals of which the most remarkable one was the mixture of horsemeat with beef in 2013 (Peng et al, 2017). In the recent years that have passed, South Korea also joined the circle of scandals when in 2000 crabs were found to have lead in them, while in 2005 Kimchi was found in kimchi. The cherry on the top was in 2010, when a famous snack company was found to be using rat carcasses as their ingredient (Yang and Yang, 2013). These food safety concerns effect not just locally but also internationally. Leading to a decline in human health and lots of economic losses for the country. 

Due to its importance, food safety has seen considerable efforts to improve its safety worldwide. Government officials have actively started establishing institutes which can deal with this issue by investing in hazard control systems like good agricultural practices or GAPS, good manufacturing practices or GMP, hazard analysis and critical control point or HACCP and more (Liu, Liu, Zhang & Gao, 2015). One of the most recent researches was done in Ontario to make a qualitative analysis of food safety steps that are taken up my cheese makers and the paper also reported the artisan’s awareness and perceptions (Le, Bazger, Hill & Wilcock, 2014). Other areas that have been research include the occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes in cheese, Staphylococcus aureus in milk (Barancaeli et al, 2014; Lee, Cappato, Corassin, Cruz & Oliveira, 2016) and GMP assessment and introduction of the HACCP system (Carroascosa et al, 2016). 

South Korea’s, Korea Ministry of Food and Drug Safety or KMFDS, are in charge of foods safety and risk assessment and they have developed a sound regulatory system to keep in control the food quality and make sure the food hasn’t been adulterated (KMFDS, 2017). Health and nutrition are KMFDS’s ultimate goal for enhancing food safety (Peng at el, 2017). Though, KMFDS has put in a lot of effort to keep Korea’s food quality up to par, there are several food safety incidents still being reported. And these reported studies have been helpful to re-evaluate and propose ideas for risk communication and develop better food safety regulations and managements (Xue & Zhang, 2013). Systemic risk analysis helps to develop better strategies or even the best ones, but so far South Korea no such studies have been done in the country (Liu et al, 2015; Xue & Zhang, 2013). 

Though a study conducted by Park, Kim and Bahk (2017) complied media reported on food safety incidents, ranging from 1998 to 2016. The total number of reported incidents compiled were 975 which had an average of 51.3% in a year and 4.3% occurred a month. The food incidents were reported for the following cases:

  1. Fruits and vegetables
  2. Fish and its products
  3. Meat and its products
  4. Beverages
  5. Confectionary

Of the reported cases, at least 41.6% were chemical hazard related, while 20.4% were physical hazard. The study further performed an analysis about which conditions can lead to these hazards, and it found that primary production is the most common stage with 63% of incidents taking place at this point. Following the production stage, handling and distribution had incidents of food safety for about 6.7% of the cases.

Lee (2017), in the 8th conference on Food Quality and Safety policy talked about the application of DPSEEA framework for food safety development and health indicators in Korea. In his paper he reported that having food safety indicators are useful as they are important indicators to help one define food hazards, contamination pathways and levels of exposure in connection to public health. A link needs to be established whereby which one can interpret the difficult relationship between human health and food safety hazards. The paper further discussed pro’s and cons of the framework which can help develop food safety in Korea. The paper chose the DPSEEA framework as it can be divided into five domains and they allow different forms of action for each domain. Therefore, six procedures were developed for Korean safety food indicators and their developing process included forty-five initial indicators but only total of four were chosen from them. Among the four selected from the final list, one was called the state domain which helps to indicate the chemical hazards of residual pesticides. The other three indicators were termed as the effect domain and were indicators of food contamination and their effect on health. These final indicators are important as they provide information on overall food environment, which includes hygiene and food health. The framework not only helps to provide systemic intervention points but also in developing food safety health indicators which can be divided into domain points. Though, the structure does have gaps as it does not take into account the population sensitivity, effecting areas between each domain, therefore, causing health risks to differ across different areas. In the future a modified version would be needed when developing new indicators to fill the gaps. 

Policies regarding food safety regulation in Korea have been around for many years now, as one can state by reading Wang’s (2012) PhD paper. In her paper she has listed various policy makers and government agencies who have established framework and rules and help reduce Korea’s food safety incidence. The Framework Act on Food Safety, set in 2008) ensures that people will achieve a healthy and safe diet by clarifying the rights and obligations by people and the responsibilities which are held by the state and local government. The Food sanitation act is the most important one, as it aims to contribute to public health by reducing sanitary risks in food by prevention methods and promoting qualitative changes, which give true and accurate data to the public. The Functional Food Act targets specific food groups. 

Safety standards are also in Korea which act as important legal instruments in food safety. Such as the Food Code and Food Additive Code has been propagated by Korea food and Drug Administration and the Food Sanitary act. Food quality related standards have also been given importance which include information about the foods country of origin, and is applied to specific food groups, example, the agricultural food regulatory agencies, such as National Agricultural Product Quality Management Service. 

Agricultural foods have been regulated by Food, Agriculture, Forester and Fisheries department which take responsibility by setting up regulations and standard related to livestock and dairy products, including forester and fishery. Sanitary controls, standards, specifications and labelling requirements for domestic and imported livestock is ensured by the National Agricultural Product Quality Management Service and the Animal, Plans and Fisheries Quarantine and Inspection Agency. They do this by preventing harmful weeds, pests and diseases from originating from imported plants, fruits and vegetables. 

The basic responsibilities, which include the hygiene with regards to manufacture, process, distribution and sales, when caring for their hygiene and sanitary practices, sis covered by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The organization is also responsible for other food acts such as the Functional Food Act and implementing the Enforcement Decree and Enforcement Rule. The KFDA sets and enforces specific standards for imported and domestic products, which include, functional food, additives and contact materials. Products manufactured via Biotechnological rules are also established by them for food processing, especially products containing GMO ingredients and guidelines for HACCP program. Self-production cannot ensure food supply, therefore imported food is important and this has increased ever since Korea jointed the WTO. 

Last but not the least, South Korea has modernized its risk analysis system not only by the regulatory ministries and risk management agencies but the Korea Food and Drug administration also established the National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation on 1st May, 2009 which provides scientific evaluation on food, food supplements and other products in KFDA policy. National Food Safety Information Service set in June, 2009 acts as a risk communicator which provides food safety information to both public and policy makers. Apart from that, they also provide food traceability for industry, making it easier to recall food related cases when they happen. 

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