|This photo of a rusty Hoegaarden beer can was taken by a customer who purchased the product. Yonhap|
By Jung Hae-myoung
Customers have raised complaints after discovering that rusty cans of Hoegaarden beer are being sold in convenience stores here. The cans in question were imported from Belgium through Oriental Breweries.
There are two official kinds of Hoegaarden beer in South Korea; that manufactured in Belgium and then imported to Korea, and the other manufactured locally for domestic distribution.
Earlier, OB told the authorized distributors that "even if the beer can corrodes at the bottom, there is no harm to the liquid content itself." It has also released official statements saying OB will respond to customer complaints that have been raised due to the rusty cans.
In the wake of consumer concerns, Emart Traders conducted inspections by taking samples from the faulty products. After analysis the company concluded there is nothing wrong with the beer inside the cans and Emart continues to sell them.
However, customers view the issue as "something serious" when they saw the beer cans severely rusted at the bottom.
"I recently bought four six-packs of beer, and 16 of the cans were rusty," a customer who recently bought Hoegaarden beer said. "Even if they say there is no problem with the contents, it seems quite problematic to sell these cans that come into contact with people's mouths when they drink." The product still had six months before expiry.
Regarding the issue, OB elaborated by saying, "This is a very rare case." A company official added, "Hoegaarden beer cans from Belgium are made with iron so they sometimes rust during the shipping process. These corroded cans are taken out in the warehouse before they are delivered to the market but it seems that there were some problems in the screening process."
"We made a total inspection and the problematic products are no longer on the market. After a thorough internal meeting, we've decided to recall all the faulty iron cans that were imported from Belgium," he said.
In the past, OB manufactured Hoegaarden beer locally with the company procuring necessary materials from Belgium, but since 2017 it has been importing canned beer from Belgium.
"The products are delivered in boxes and we keep them at normal temperature. Before unboxing the products, it is hard to check if the products are rusty," E-mart Traders official explained.