South Korea has reportedly launched a pilot app called the ‘Imported Food Search Lens’ for enabling consumers to trace the food safety information of imported products. The app allows taking pictures of product labels, even though they do not form part of any particular traceability programme.

According to Kim Gang-lip, Minister, Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the Imported Food Search Lens app is a pilot service in the development of image recognition technology. The service enables consumers to easily assess product history as well as safety information.

Gang-lip also added that when consumers get connected to the app and utilize it for taking a picture, a lens that can detect Korean labels on the packaging of food products will be activated. The pictures taken will be further analyzed by making use of the latest OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology for the automatic extraction of characters like product name.

Launched as a pilot programme by the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in April 2021, the application intends to advance food safety practices associated with imported food products in South Korea at the consumer level.

Major underscored information that consumers will be privy to by means of this app before the purchase or consumption of a product are the import date of entry to Korea, country of manufacture, recall or suspension status of the product, reasons for recall/suspension, and so on.

The app will allow consumers to easily and directly check whether a food product is imported or locally-made, stated the MFDS. In addition, consumers will also have direct access to online information regarding whether the product has been flagged for issues of food safety in the media or other platforms in any other nations.

The service is anticipated to help enhance access to food safety information. This will make it possible for consumers to easily assess the safety information of imported foods with the help of a smartphone in daily life. The Ministry will be looking towards improving this further, added the MFDS.

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