H Mart Double-Labeling Issue Proved the Power of Consumers
보스톤코리아  2012-01-18, 15:47:45 
By MyongSool Chang
Translated SeungYeon Woo

The consumer, K., says, “Double-Labeling cannot be a mistake.”
The Branch Manager of H Mart says, “It was the staff’s mistake due to monotonous work.”
Burlington H Mart, having an issue of double-labeling the marinated chicken’s expiration date, immediately received a food inspection from the Burlington Board of Healthon January 9, 2012.

The Health Agent of the Burlington Board of Health, Marlene Johnson, examined the consumer’s complaint through YouTube and concluded that H Mart clearly has an issue of violating the regulation; thus, she started the food sanitation inspection in the morning of the 9th. Since then, Burlington Board of Health has been practicing the inspection every day. The Board of Health has declared that if any violation is detected, they will order that the item be discarded, and if the violation is serious, then they will take serious measures.

The Branch Manager of H Mart, Mimi Lee, said, “We’ve already received an inspection and we’re now receiving it every day. We are convinced by the Board of Health and have been providing enough data. As soon as the final result comes out, I will notify the consumers through Boston Korea. The director of the Board of Health, Sharon Mastenbrook, has not yet presented the official result despite Boston Korea’s request through e-mails and calls.

The issue of double-labeling started when an anonymous consumer, K., discovered the double-label on the spoiled marinated chicken and reported the issue on YouTube and BostonKorea.com.
K., working at an American company downtown, said she ate marinated chicken that she bought on December 16. Although it smelled odd, she cooked it and tasted it. Then she realized the chicken was awfully spoiled. Finally, when she carefully looked at the expiration date on the packaging, she noticed that the label was doubled.

K., who usually goes to H Mart once a week, said, “On December 20, the day that I cooked and tasted the chicken, I was really upset. I recorded a video and sent it to my friends. Then I thought I had to raise public concern and finally I uploaded the video to BostonKorean.com.

“I was proud of having H Mart in Burlington. I advertised it to my American friends and I even bought food for them. I expected a lot from H Mart since food can easily work as a bridge among people to exchange their thoughts and culture. However, now I am very disappointed after this kind of issue. But I’ll continue going to H Mart, and after I confirm it becomes clean and fresh, I will delete the video from YouTube.”

To the question about what if the double-labeling was just a mistake, K. said, “I think the possibility of making a mistake to put on a double-label is 0.0001%. I didn’t notice it at first. I found out there was another date on it while I was cleaning the packaging to recycle it. If it was a mistake, why didn’t they put it on another package?”

The Branch Manager Lee said, “It was a mistake of an employee, who is only responsible for labeling in the fresh meat department. It resulted from monotonous work.” To the issue of the expiration date extending from the 19th to the 24th, Lee said, “We never randomly extend the expiration date. The expiration date can’t be changed once the first product is set. That makes no sense.”

She added, “The expiration date of the marinated chicken that the consumer K. bought was January 19th, but originally, it was a product that the expiration date could be set as the 24th. We labeled the 24th as we changed the price of the product while it’s on sale. I think that double-label was caused by the employee’s mistake due to the monotonous work.”

“It will never happen again. I can’t imagine lying about the expiration date. I can promise on the name of my son. This sort of issue reflects on the credibility of a large company, H Mart. I apologize sincerely to consumers,” said Lee.

To the comment about not giving careful attention to the opinions of consumers, Lee said, “Bostonian consumers are very smart. It is certainly not true that I am unconcerned about their opinions. As a Branch Manager, it is my duty to pay attention to consumers’ opinions all the time. However, I’m now afraid of them. The issue kept me awake all night yesterday.”

The issue was reported not only to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health but also to the USDA and FDA. The final result will be revealed by the investigation of the Burlington Board of Health.

ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지
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