LG Electronics was caught for falsely advertising its kimchi containers inside kimchi refrigerators as certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said on May 28 that it will impose a correction order and a fine of 50 million won on LG Electronics. LG Electronics deceived consumers by using the word "eco-friendly" without sufficient grounds as well as the fact of FDA certification.
LG Electronics advertised that kimchi containers received FDA certification in catalogs, product-attached stickers and websites distributed to 1,200 stores nationwide between August 2012 and June 2016. FDA certification is one of the regulars in product advertising.
However, LG Electronics had no direct certification from the FDA. The FDA only operates a pre-certification system for medicines and others. It does not certify plastic food containers such as kimchi containers.
The act of advertising directly certified by the FDA, which has a high awareness of food safety, is feared to undermine the fair trading order by misleading consumers that LG Electronics' kimchi containers are superior to its competitors' products, an FTC official said.
From June 2011 to June 2016, LG Electronics posted an advertisement that reads "HS mark acquisition and further U.S. FDA certification!... eco-friendly kimchi container" in the same space. HS mark is a certification mark for hygiene and safety issued by the Korea Conformity Laboratories.
The FTC said there were problems in this area as well. HS mark is a standard that food containers circulating on the market must comply with. The FTC believes that the relative concept cannot be the basis for eco-friendly.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety also sanctioned related cases in 2017 for violating the Food Sanitation Act. The Environment Ministry issued a correctional recommendation. The court fined LG Electronics 40 million won, but reduced it to 30 million won. The employee was also fined after receiving a suspended jail term.
Meanwhile, LG Electronics said it corrected its false and exaggerated ads before the FTC's investigation began in July 2016, adding that it was a practical mistake to write "FDA certification," instead of "meet FDA standards."