|Harim's The Misik Bap products / Courtesy of Harim|
By Kim Jae-heun
CJ CheilJedang and Ottogi have expressed dissatisfaction over Harim, which decided to market a new line of ready-to-eat cooked rice by suggesting similar products made by the rival food makers are unhealthy, according to company officials Tuesday.
During the launch of its new cooked rice, "The Misik Bap," on Monday, Harim Holdings CEO Huh Jun said the product is made of water and rice and does not contain acidity modifiers or other additives.
"It was additives that gave a unique smell to existing microwave rice products. They contain a pH 4 to pH 6 level of acidity, but Harim's The Misik Bap shows pH 7, which is neutral level," Huh said.
Harim said it only wanted to emphasize that its product does not include any additives, but CJ CheilJedang and Ottogi said it was an obvious case of employing a negative marketing strategy by Harim to give consumers the impression that competitors' products are unhealthy.
"Extracts of fine inner bran from rice or acidity modifier included in the microwave rice is not harmful to the human body unless they exceed the standard level regulated by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety," an Ottogi official said. "We used acidity modifiers to maintain the good taste of cooked rice and its smell as well as extend its expiration date. Our products have been certified for safety."
CJ CheilJedang also claimed that its cooked rice includes "very" small amounts of rice inner bran extracts, which is categorized under food, and not as an additive.
"It is not correct to say our product includes additives. We only add very small amounts of extracts of rice inner bran to give the taste of rice that has just been cooked at home," a CJ CheilJedang official said.
After Huh's remarks created a controversy, Harim said its CEO did not intend to compare its new product with those of its rivals.
"Huh did not mean to say other cooked rice products are harmful but only emphasized that The Misik Bap is purely made without any additives. I think there was a miscommunication that caused misunderstanding," a Harim official said.