Dead mouse in package stirs fight

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Dead mouse in package stirs fight

A feud regarding a mouse found inside a package of E-Mart-branded bread crumbs is pitting the Korea Food and Drug Administration against E-Mart and Samyang Milmax, the product’s manufacturer.

Last month, a 30-year-old housewife in Osan, Gyeonggi reported to an E-Mart branch near her home that she discovered a six-centimeter-long (2.3-inch-long) mouse inside the package of the E-Mart-brand bread crumbs used to make deep-fry batter.

The Korea Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday conducted an investigation at Samyang’s factory in Asan, South Chungcheong, and said it found mouse excrement inside the factory. However, the KFDA admitted on Thursday that based on its preliminary investigation there was no solid evidence to prove that the dead mouse came from inside the Samyang plant.

Even so, the KFDA said it was possible the mouse crawled into the package when it was being filled with bread crumbs and went undetected during the X-ray inspection.

E-Mart, Korea’s largest discount store chain, and Samyang Milmax reject the KFDA’s allegation. Samyang says that finding mouse excrement is not sufficient proof for such a claim. “There is extremely little chance that foreign objects could go undetected during our X-ray and weight tests,” said an official at Samyang. E-Mart and Samyang have submitted a joint petition requesting a clear explanation of the case to the KFDA.

Some media sources quoted unnamed Samyang officials as saying that the case might have been a setup, in which someone put the mouse inside the bag on purpose in an effort to sue the company.

Industry sources said yesterday that a Samyang factory inspection conducted by the Asan city government last October gave the plant a rating of 191 points out of 200, meaning conditions were very satisfactory.

The bread crumb products have been removed from E-Mart stores.


By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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