There’s no soap in your Cass, insists angry OB

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There’s no soap in your Cass, insists angry OB

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The president of Oriental Brewery yesterday apologized for the controversy surrounding the smell of its main product, Cass beer, and provided proof that it wasn’t a soapy scent.

The country’s No. 1 brewery accused its biggest rival, Hite-Jinro, the second player in the beer industry, of spreading a rumor that the smell was caused by washing detergent in the beer, causing sales to plunge.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety concluded that a compound called T2N (trans-2-nonenal) caused the distinctive smell and that it is not detrimental to human health.

“I’d like to make an apology for all the controversy in recent months,” said Jang In-soo, CEO of Oriental Brewery, in a press meeting.

An industrial sabotage investigation is still under way.

Earlier this month, the Seoul Suseo Police Station sent investigators to Hite-Jinro’s offices in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, and its headquarters in Daejeon, South Chungcheong, and seized computers for the investigation.

Oriental Brewery requested a police probe after comments surfaced on Twitter and Facebook suggested that washing detergent was included in Cass and that it smells and tastes like sanitizer.

Some analysts wondered if a rumor war was developing between the competitors. CEO Jang suggested that nefarious forces might be behind the rumors.

“The authorities were investigating the oxidized odor and the company also sought analysis from outside research centers,” he said. “But [before the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety made any announcements] there was a vicious rumor going around.

“The investigation we sought was about those rumors, not about the odor itself or about any specific person,” he said.

Hite-Jinro said that there was no “systematic involvement” at the company level.

Oriental Brewery also said it would improve its production process in the future by adopting an optimization process called Voyager Plant Optimization pioneered by the makers of Budweiser beer.

“[Anheuser-Busch InBev’s] Voyager Plant Optimization refers to a long voyage toward plant optimization,” said Lee Sang-guk, a director in charge of overseeing the manufacturing process.

“[AB InBev] focuses on keeping a high level of quality without quality variation among 180 factories around the world,” he continued. “OB’s objective is the same. Our goal is to produce the highest-quality products with no [quality variations].”

The beer company will allocate 120 billion won ($115 million) to embrace the new process.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety found that some OB products contained more than 124 parts per trillion of T2N, higher than the average of 100 parts per trillion.

Oriental Brewery held 60 percent of the market in 2013, but its share fell to 50 percent after the detergent controversy.

BY PARK EUN-JEE, KIM EUN-JI [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]














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