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How To Read Korean Food Labels

Tips for identifying brand names, ingredients, and nutritional information 

Food labels are already difficult to understand, add in another language and it can become an almost impossible task.  Whether you’re looking for one of the major top allergens or have another dietary restriction, these tips will help you translate the product name, ingredients, and nutrition facts.  Bookmark these tips to use the next time you order groceries online or browse the food aisles.  

Looking for information about Korean snacks? Get the Korean Convenience app on the App Store or Google Play Store 

What’s On The Front

Letter fonts are written in various colors, shapes and sizes.  Important tips to remember is the word that’s written the largest is usually the name of the product.  What is written directly underneath is usually the flavor of the product i.e. spicy, peanut, or sweet. 

Korean Manufacturers

There are several popular food and drink companies from South Korea.  Some of the organizations have business in South Korea and abroad such as the United States.  

Popular brand names you will see on packages include:   

*There are additional companies who are not mentioned in the list above.  

Expiration & Manufactured Dates

One of the key differences for consumers may be how the day, month, and year are written on the packages.  A lot of countries in Asia follow the hierarchical system and use the DD-MM-YYYY format. 

What’s On The Back

You want to make healthier choices, but you can’t understand the ingredient label.  Here’s some tips to help you translate the back of the food package.

Nutrition Facts

Korean Food Label
Image: Please don’t copy without permission.

Additional Terms

Listed below are additional terms that you might need help translating.

  • Product Name – 제품명  
  • Item Report Number – 품목보고번호 
  • Packaging Material – 포장재질 
  • Shelf Life – 유통기한 
  • Raw Material Name/Ingredients 원재료명 

Country Of Origin  

Words that are enclosed within parentheses are usually countries where the product originates.  Popular countries include United States (미국산)), Malaysia (말레이시아산), Australia (호주산)), Thailand (태국산) and Dutch (네덜란드산).    

Looking for information about Korean snacks? Get the Korean Convenience app on the App Store or Google Play Store 

Allergens

On most packages there’s an allergy label.  They’re the last word’s written within the ingredients sections and are usually highlighted by a different background color.  Things to remember:

  • Popular colors include white, yellow, and black.  
  • Ingredients are separated by commas
  • Top Allergens: 
  • Wheat – (밀가루) 
  • Milk – (우유) 
  • Egg – (달걀) 
  • Fish – (생선) 
  • Shellfish – (조개)
  • Sesame – (깨)
  • Peanuts – (땅콩)
  • Tree Nuts – (견과류)

Ministry Of Food & Drug Safety

To contact the Ministry Of Food & Drug Safety call +82-43-719-1564 (for English) and speak to someone regarding further concerns.

Are you looking for more information read the Food Labeling System posted on the Ministry Of Food & Drug Safety website

No matter which country you live in, it’s important to do research on what you read on food labels especially when you’ve an allergen or dietary restriction.  While it might be time consuming to read health claims, ingredients, or nutritional information that can be displayed on packages, it’s important to make the best decision about food.

I would love to hear your comments down below.  Do you feel this post is helpful to read Korean food labels?  Also, what food packaging information would you add to assist people who love Korean food?

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