Keep food safeA controversy arose as a foreign substance, presumed to be the head of a rat, was found in saeukkang, a popular snack of local food manufacturer Nongshim. What made people more upset was Nongshim’s unethical attempt to cover up the incident without any concern about public health.
The company was made aware of the incident about a month ago after receiving a report from a customer. But Nongshim did not recall its products immediately. The company cannot escape the accusation that it tried to cover up the incident. After the Korea Food and Drug Administration announced the result of its investigation into the incident on Monday, the company issued an apology to the public and said it would retrieve the products off the market for disposal.
Even after it apologized, however, the company has not shown sincere atonement. The company initially implied that it would recall all the products on the market, but then changed its words, saying that it would recall only the products that used the same ingredients as the one containing the rat’s head.
What is saeukkang? It is the “people’s snack,” beloved by South Korean people for the past 40 years. But Nongshim is now acting as if it does not need to care about people any more since it became a conglomerate. Customers should feel abandoned to learn that the company has been making its products with such a low level of concern for sanitation.
Nongshim should make a public vow and apologize again. It should come up with practical measures to re-establish its food safety standards and reputation, which have plummeted. As a start, it should immediately recall all related products now on the market.
The company cannot blame a factory in China. The company’s work ethic is the problem. It should strengthen sanitation standards and the safety of the factory in China and send an inspector there to maintain the standards.
Food is the basis for life. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of food safety. We tend to be too lenient about accidents related to food safety. Maybe we are accustomed to them because there have been so many incidents. We should protect food safety, which is directly related to our lives.
A negligent company should be punished by customers as well as by the law.In Japan, a company that held 80 percent of the market share in the dairy industry was kicked out of the market in the early 2000s because of a food safety incident.
We have to learn from this.