Chocolate in a shoe polish can, carbonated drinks in a marker ink bottle, candy in a glue stick and a lipstick container -- foods that resemble familiar non-food products -- will no longer be sold in South Korea under a legal revision.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said Tuesday it has issued an advance notice for revised ordinances under a revised bill on labelling and advertising of foods that passed the National Assembly last month.
The revised law bans labelling and advertising that can cause foods and non-food products to be confused, and prohibits the use of existing products’ names, trademarks, containers and packaging in food items.
The revision came amid concerns that repeated exposure to such foods can make children and people with intellectual disabilities misperceive actual shoe polish, Magic marker ink and glue sticks as food and eat them.
Following the success of Gompyo Beer produced by a local brewer in collaboration with Daehan Flour, which lent its decades-old bear mascot to give the product a retro touch, convenience store chains CU, GS25 and Seven Eleven this year unveiled chocolate in shoe polish cases, Go stones and boards; drinks in marker ink bottles; and glue stick candies, respectively.
Internet users on social media expressed concerns as, while the old Gompyo flour is also food, the latest food items imitated chemical products.
“What if kids suck on Magic ink, and eat shoe polish?” an Internet user wrote in a tweet, which was retweeted thousands of times.
Another internet user noted that agricultural pesticides are designed as differently as possible from drinks, use strange colors and vomiting agents, but people still accidentally drink them.
“Why cause confusion that makes us always tense and read what the product actually is?” he wrote.
Other such products raised similar concerns.
Retail chain Homeplus unveiled a body wash product in containers that resemble Seoul Milk cartons in collaboration with the dairy producer and LG Household & Health Care in May.
Hite Jinro had introduced diffusers in Jinro soju bottles as limited edition goods in March.
“My father almost drank it, saying this soju looks cute,” an Internet user wrote at the time.
Others commented, “I thought they were mini soju bottles,” “they even come with little soju cups; how on earth are you supposed to tell the difference?”
An official at the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said the revised law is expected to prevent accidents caused by misconception and consumption of non-food items.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com