Cass beer smell ruled ‘harmless’

August 26, 2014

By Jung Min-ho

Cass beer

Cass beer

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety concluded Tuesday that the abnormal odor of Cass beer, Oriental Brewery’s flagship product, was “harmless.”

The ministry said in a press briefing that trans-2-nonenal (T2N), a substance formed in the brewing process as a result of oxidation, was causing the smell. It recommended that the company monitor its brewing facilities more closely.

The ministry launched an investigation into the matter early this month after receiving complaints from consumers who said they noticed “a strong smell of disinfectant.”

“T2N is harmless to the human body,” a ministry official said. “The substance is listed in the Korean Food Additives Code, which means it can be used in food.”

Yet the ministry has advised the company to pay more attention to its distribution process, where the ministry believes the problem started.

“Such problems usually occur during the summer,” the official said. “We told them to keep the beers from sunlight during the process.”

The ministry collected 60 cans and bottles of Cass beer to determine the cause of the problem.

It found that some products contained more than 124 parts per trillion of T2N ― the average amount in other beers on the market is only 100 parts per trillion. One part per trillion equals 1 milligram of a substance dissolved in 1,000 tons of a liquid.

The ministry also inspected the company’s three breweries, where it did not find any violations of hygiene standards.

Oriental Brewery said it would improve its quality control procedures in cooperation with American brewer Anheuser-Busch, its parent company.

“We are responsible for delivering fresh products to consumers,” a company official said. “We are sorry to have worried them. Taking this case as an opportunity to improve, we will devote ourselves to enhancing the overall management system with Anheuser-Busch.”

In June, complaints began to spread online about the smell of disinfectant that many consumers had detected in the company’s canned, bottled and draft beers.

Rumors spread online and on KakaoTalk, where one anonymous person claimed to have witnessed disinfectants being mixed with beer in the manufacturing process. The person warned that women of childbearing age should not drink Cass beer if it came from a batch produced between June and August.

Oriental Brewery initially believed its rivals were spreading the rumors, and the company responded by contacting the police.

Oriental Brewery is Korea’s top beer manufacturer, holding 60 percent of the market as of March 2013, according to the Korea Alcohol and Liquor Industry Association.


  1. Jon Huer

    August 27, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    I think it makes Cass taste better!

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