|From left is a Rilakkuma Tumbler, Caffe Pascucci's Heart Tumblers, Hollys Coffee's New Modern Tumbler and Daiso's SS2019 Spring Tumbler / Korea Times file|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
Caffe Pascucci, Hollys Coffee and Daiso are desperate to quell the anger of consumers after the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) found their tumblers to contain high levels of lead.
The companies have begun to recall their tumblers, notifying consumers of ways they can be refunded.
The moves came as the KCA warned consumers, Tuesday, on the dangers posed by using tumblers laced with lead. After screening 24 tumblers bought from retailers, the agency said four were found to contain lead amounting to 4,078 milligrams per kilogram to 79,606 milligrams per kilogram, way above the international standard ― 90 milligrams per kilogram.
|Caffe Pascucci's notice for tumbler recall / Courtesy of Caffe Pascucci|
"The Heart Tumbler abided by the Food Sanitation Act, but the KCA raised question about the safety of its exterior surface. Therefore, we decided to recall the problematic item until Aug. 14," Caffe Pascucci wrote.
Another coffee chain Hollys Coffee stated, "We have chosen to halt sales of our New Modern Tumbler as soon as we were notified about the high levels of lead found in the product."
"Apart from recalled products, we submitted an inquiry to Korea Conformity Laboratories to test 30 types of tumblers and their health hazards. They are all certified as safe products for use."
Hollys added it would will take responsibility by recalling all 42,333 tumblers.
Meanwhile Daiso, which sells household items and stationery for low prices, apologized to its consumers.
"We're deeply sorry for causing trouble," it said in a statement. "We will voluntarily recall the SS2019 Spring Tumbler until Aug. 19 without a receipt. Even if you used it or bought at another store branch, you can still get a full refund."
Despite the companies' prompt actions, consumers are still expressing disappointment.
One Twitter user named Han Sung-ik wrote, "If you're using one of the four products, throw it away immediately."
Another tumbler user surnamed Shim said, "Products containing 884 times the permissible level of lead is too much, don't you think?"
Exposure to high levels of lead may bring about reproductive health problems as well as neurological, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems.
However, because a tumbler is classified as a food container under the Food Sanitation Act, the safety standard simply warns that chemicals should not come into direct contact with food.
In other words, hazardous substances on the exterior surface, which does not come into contact with food, are not supervised by law.
"Consumers should not think that tumblers ― because they are branded ― are harmless to use," the KCA said in a press release.
"Children could ingest lead when they drink from tumblers containing lead," it said. "We will request the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to analyze heavy metal contaminants in tumblers and other decorated food containers."