The draft stipulates that additional information about the city, province or prefecture of the raw materials must be indicated, in addition to the country of origin which is already mandatory.
Japan‘s move has been criticized by countries like South Korea, China, Taiwan and New Zealand.
Dr Frank Kim, Founder and CEO of SEAH Bio, a South Korean regulatory consultancy specializing in the regulation of nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and processed foods, said FoodNavigator-Asia: “They (Democratic Party) are proposing a regulation to give consumers the right to know where their food products are coming from and give them peace of mind if they know they are not from a dangerous region. “
Japan is one of the main exporters of agricultural and aquatic products to South Korea.
The regulation would require manufacturers to indicate the specific city, province or prefecture where the food was obtained. This is in addition to the country of origin which is already displayed on food labels.
It will apply to agricultural products such as vegetables, fruits, aquatic products such as fish and seafood, as well as processed foods containing these raw ingredients.
Additional original labeling will be indicated on the packaging of the final product. For products without packaging, or sold in places like fresh markets, the information will be displayed on the cart, box or shelf where consumers can find it.
The project is currently under review.
According to Kim, the proposals tend to take two or three months to implement. This proposal comes at a crucial time, accelerated by the dumping of radioactive wastewater from Japan. “This topic is critical and sensitive with the political issues involved, so many factors will need to be taken into account. “
Moreover, it would also mean that manufacturers have to review the packaging of all their exported food.
If this regulation is enforced, it will apply to all food imported into South Korea, not just Japan. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will oversee this regulation.
Japan announced in April its intention to phase out wastewater over two to three years. He claimed the water had been treated and was safe to drink, although South Korea and China expressed concerns and opposed the plan.
Contaminated water is actually seawater pumped from the nuclear power plant to cool the plant which saw its cooling systems fail following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The water has since been treated. to remove radioactive material (mainly radionuclides such as cesium and strontium) and stored in over 1,000 steel tanks on site.
Scientists remain neutral, saying the risks would likely be minimal and the treated water would likely not contain higher levels of radiation than the current environment.
In an article published in Nature,Jordi Vives I Batlle, scientist at the Belgian Center for Nuclear Research who has been carrying out research in Fukushima since the tsunami, said: âAs a scientist, I have to keep a cool take on all of this, and look at the facts, and the facts don’t tell me that this is something we should be very worried about.. “