Authorities shed light on E. coli fears
Health authorities said yesterday that a malicious bacterium has not been detected in any Dongsuh Foods brand cereals currently stocked in public grocery aisles. That statement comes just a week after sales of four of the company’s products were banned following contamination concerns.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced the results of a self-conducted probe yesterday during a press conference, stating that a form of E. coli bacteria had not been found in any of the 18 cereals manufactured by the company, including three of the four suspected products: Post Almond Flakes, Granola Cranberry Almond and Granola Papaya Coconut cereals.
Oreo Oz was excluded from the test because it was recalled before authorities began selecting test items from public aisles.
The ministry, however, continued that Dongsuh had previously discovered the bacterium in four of its cereal products in an internal quality inspection, but failed to report the results to authorities. The company will be fined 3 million won ($2,842) for its negligence, officials said.
They also noted that Dongsuh, better known as the country’s largest coffee maker, could face more extensive charges if prosecutors can provide evidence that the company used the same ingredients in the suspicious brands to manufacture other goods on its production line in an ongoing probe.
In response to the announcement, Dongsuh stated through its company website yesterday that it would uphold its initial decision to recall and discard the four cereals.
Controversy surrounding the food company surfaced on Oct. 13, when the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced that it would suspend sales of one cereal product, Post Almond Flakes, made by Dongsuh, over suspicions that it was contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Granola Cranberry Almond, Granola Papaya Coconut and Oreo Oz were suspended on Oct. 14.
E. coli causes symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, anemia and kidney failure, which can lead to death.
Prosecutors raided the company’s production plant in Jincheon, North Chungcheong, on Oct. 14 and its headquarters and research center on Thursday. Dongsuh apologized on Friday through its website, saying it would recall all four products and temporarily suspend further sales.
It did not mention anything about E. coli.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]