New data compiled by the the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) highlights violations of sanitary codes by major coffee chains over the past three and a half years ranging from failure to store, brew and sell their coffee in a clean environment to selling coffee containing pieces of broken glass, fragments of dishcloths and employee fingernails.
Seoul-based Tom N Toms Coffee had the most violations amongst several chains which include American-based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Starbucks, along with Korean-based chains Ediya, Caffe Bene, Hollys Coffee and Angel-in-Us Coffee.
Here’s a breakdown of the 170 cases of sanitary violations cited in the study:
- Tom N Toms: 44 violations
- Caffe Bene: 31 violations
- Hollys Coffee: 24 violations
- Angel-in-us Coffee: 22 violations
- Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: 13 violations
- Ediya Coffee: 11 violations
- Starbucks: 8 violations;
- Other brands: 17 Violations
The report was released Monday by Rep. Kim Hyun-sook of the ruling Saenuri Party.
According to Kim, a Tom N Toms outlet in Gangnam was fined 300,000 won ($280) for storing coffee beans in a room filled with dust and cobwebs, while Caffe Bene in Gyeongi was penalized by the MFDS earlier this year for using expired products in food for sale.
It’s regretful that the violations keep recurring, and thus harm customers, said Kim, who urged chains to improve sanitary self-inspections of their outlets.
Instances of sanitary code violations have been erratic since the data recording period began in 2010. Of the 170 cases, 42 were committed in 2010, 38 in 2011, 66 in 2012, and 24 from January-June of this year.
Spending on Coffee Declining
In a separate report released on Monday by the Korean Statistical Information Service, daily spending on coffee and tea dropped 1.8% in April-June, going from 8,017 won per day to 7,873 won per day.
Additional reading: Indie Cafes Flourishing in Korea