Korean Ginseng has been adopted as an official food by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CODEX). Previously ginseng has been subjected to tighter customs inspections due to being categorized as a medicine.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said on July 7 that the U.N. body adopted Korea's standards on ginseng products as an international guideline at the 38th General Meeting of CODEX held at Geneva, Switzerland on July 6 (local time).
The CODEX, headquartered in Rome, was jointly established in 1962 by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. It sets global guidelines and standards on food products for 186 U.N. member nations. The organization had previously acknowledged Korea's standards of kimchi as an international guideline.
CODEX's latest decision will likely increase the nation's outbound shipments of ginseng and its processed products, since the root has been classified as a food product, not a medicine.
When the Korean government pushed ahead with the local standardization of ginseng in 2000, almost all of the foreign countries regarded ginseng as medicine, therefore subjecting it to more stringent customs inspections and higher import tariff rates.
“The CODEX's decision will be a turning point for Korea's ginseng industry, because it will significantly boost its shipments abroad,” a ministry official said, adding, “Countries in Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia have so far treated ginseng as a medicine, but they are expected to change their rules soon.”
Currently, Korea exports ginseng products to some 70 countries, but nearly 90 percent of its shipments head to China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States.
Ginseng is known to help strengthen the immune system and improve stamina and blood circulation.