Starbucks offers apology over toxic substance in its giveaway ‘summer carry bag’

SEOUL– Starbucks Korea offered an apology Thursday over a toxic chemical substance found in its giveaway bags in a move to assuage safety concerns of customers.

The move came after a user of an anonymous community app called Blind claimed earlier this month that formaldehyde was found on Starbucks’ “summery carry bag,” a small-sized picnic bag provided to customers who purchased 17 drinks between May and early July.

“We would like to express our deepest apologies for the delay in interpreting the test results of our product. We will strengthen our product quality assurance process,” the coffee chain said in a statement.

Starbucks Korea said an average of 459 mg/kg of formaldehyde was found in an “unopened” summer carry bag. An average of 244 mg/kg of the same substance was found in the interior of the bag, citing test results received from a public testing agency.

The toxic substance was found to be present on the bags after two months. According to Starbucks Korea, an average of 271 mg/kg of the substance was detected outside of the bag while an average of 22 mg/kg was found in the interior of the bags after it was opened for two months.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency, classifies formaldehyde — a colorless, flammable chemical used in many household products — as a human carcinogen.

In South Korea, formaldehyde levels of less than 75 mg/kg are considered safe for underwear and other clothing. In the case of beddings, the limit is set at 300 mg/kg.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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