Boycott of UK Company Reckitt Benckiser Expands Despite Apology for Deadly Disinfectants That Killed Over 100 People in Korea
May 04, 2016 02:06 AM EDT
British consumer goods company Oxy Reckitt Beckinser apologized for OxiClean that caused death and injured more than 100 people in Korea. Meanwhile, prosecutors investigated the case deeper to determine whether the company acknowledged their toxic product before releasing them to the public.
Earlier last week, Chosun Ilbo reported that the company apology came full five years after the Korean government first linked the deaths of more than 100 people from lung problems with germicides they used in sterilizing household humidifiers. The products they used were OxiClean by Reckitt Benckiser.
Its germicide products, according to government's official data, have 530 victims, 143 of whom are already dead. Civic groups, however, claim there are 1,528 people victims of the products, with 228 dead.
In a statement issued on April 19, the company apologized to the victims and family for lack of timely communication. Still, Reckitt Benckiser did not acknowledge the mistake in its product. In 2014, the Slough-headquartered company offered to pay W5 billion ($5.39 million) to the victims, but until now the company never fulfilled its promise.
Many victims and their families saw the company did not want to resolve the case. One of the victims, Kim Deok-jong (40), whose son died from lung problems caused by the germicide, said the company did not sincerely apologize.
"There was no acknowledgement of their mistakes and the company is interested only in regaining the trust of customers. It looks like their statement was the result of increasing pressure from prosecutors who are investigating the case," he said.
Following the company's action, many people boycotted the company's product. Even the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, also joined the boycott against the company along with many pharmacists in South Korea as Korea Times reported.
"Such immoral companies must be punished accordingly to keep our society healthy," said mayor Park Won-soon in his live-cast on Facebook.
Two major retailers in Korea, Lotte Mart and Homeplus, also excluded the product from Reckitt Benckiser in their sales promotion. The retailers were reported to retract the promotion for OxyClena product after the public slammed them as Korea Herald reported.
"The sales promotion was planned three months in advance and it was practically difficult to exclude Oxy's products. But we admit that our actions were not thoughtful enough," said an official from Lotte Mart.
On legal aspect, prosecutors are examining to see whether Reckit Benckiser recognized the health risk in the products before releasing them. The prosecutors have summoned two sales officials and the president of its subcontractor on Monday for interrogation.
Although Reckitt Benckinser had apologized for its toxic OxiClean product, the public did not see the company's sincerity. Therefore, boycott to the company's products extended. Even the mayor of Seoul also demanded the company to act responsibly for its toxic product.