South Korea is consulting over a proposal to amend its food contact standards. Comments will be accepted until July 27, 2021.

SAFEGUARDS | HardgoodsNO. 086/21

 SG 08621 Paper tray

In South Korea, food contact materials and articles are regulated under the Food Sanitation Act (the Act). Chapter 3 of the Act prohibits the presence or use of toxic/harmful chemicals in food contact utensils, containers and packaging which could endanger human health. It also directs the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) to establish standards and specifications for these products.

In May 2021, South Korea’s MFDS published Notice No. 2021-234 announcing its intention to revise ‘Standards and Specifications for Food Utensils, Containers and Packaging’ (the Standard). The latest proposal contains several important changes to the Standard. It:

  • Contains new language and provides a new structure for better clarity
  • Adds polyketones as a new material under synthetic resins (see Table 1 below for specifications)
  • Groups synthetic resins with similar structures into nine categories:
    • Olefins with six materials
    • Esters (twelve), with butylenesuccinate copolymer (PBS) and butylenesuccinate-adipate copolymer (PBSA) as individual entries 
    • Styrenics (five)
    • Amines (three)
    • Acrylics (three)
    • Aldehydes (four)
    • Ethers (five)
    • Vinyl chlorides (two)
    • Others (three – fluorocarbons, epoxies and polyketones)
  • Provides specifications in a table for each synthetic resin, rubber, regenerated cellulose, paper, metals/alloys, wood and starch for ease of reference 
  • Adds safety requirements for active and intelligent substances in containers/packaging 
  • Provides improved standards for recycled polyethylene terephthalates (PET)
  • Details improved test methods for coloring agents and sulfur dioxide. 

According to the Notice, comments will be accepted until July 27, 2021. 

The Notice is proposed to become effective on 1) the date of its notification and 2) January 1, 2022 for recognized raw materials (flakes, etc.) used during the recycling process if these are recycled synthetic resins made of physically regenerated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials and meet the criteria for recycled synthetic resins in utensils, containers and packaging.

Highlights of the requirements for polyketones in Notice No. 2021-234 are summarized in Table 1.

Ministry of Food and Drug Safety Notice No. 2021-234 of May 28, 2021, South Korea
Administrative Notice of Partial Revision of Standards and Specifications for Food Utensils. Containers and Packaging (Draft)

Food Contact Material


Effective Date


≤ 1.0 mg/L lead
≤ 10.0 mg/L potassium permanganate consumption
≤ 30 mg/L overall migration

Date of notification

Table 1

SGS technical experts have extensive knowledge and testing experience in materials and articles in contact with food. They work to ensure that your products meet the appropriate regulations for food contact materials, paving the way for compliance. From overall migration tests to expert advice on emerging regulations, compliance issues and documentation review, SGS is the partner to trust. In the end, it’s only trusted because it’s tested. Discover more on our website and read our brochure.

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t: (+852) 2774 7420

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