Chairman of South Korean Dairy Company Quits Over Claims That Its Yoghurt Drink Can Cure COVID-19

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This pandemic is not simply just a fight against the virus, but a fight against misinformation as well.

Unlike the community cases in Singapore, annoying good morning messages and false information continue to permeate every WhatsApp chat. I mean, how many times have we seen nonsensical theories being forwarded to family groups chats?

Well, a South Korean dairy company has come under fire for promoting their yoghurt drink as supposedly having the means to cure COVID-19.

Chairman of South Korean Dairy Company Quits Over Claims That Its Yoghurt Drink Can Cure COVID-19

According to Reuters, the company’s chairman has decided to step down today (4 May) and has apologised for coming up with false claims.

The police had launched an investigation into Namyang Dairy Product Co Ltd after they had claimed that their yoghurt drink was effective in fighting the virus. According to Yonhap News Agency, the company had allegedly exaggerated the results of laboratory research on the anti-viral effects of its Bulgaris yoghurt.

The company had made the assertion at a forum attended by reporters in April, resulting in its stocks surging approximately 30%.

However, South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety had later issued a statement declaring that Namyang had no evidence to support its claim and accused the company of illegally spreading misinformation.

Chairman Hong Won-sik’s resignation comes three weeks after the company’s claim and retraction. Reuters notes that the earlier resignation of Namyang’s chief executive did little to calm consumer backlash.

“I will resign from Namyang Dairy’s chairman position to take responsibility for all of this and I will not pass on management to my children,” Mr Hong said at the press conference.

No COVID-Killing Yoghurt, Just Tea

Apparently, this isn’t the first time Namyang has been caught in controversy.

Back in 2020, it had paid a PR company to slander its business rival, Maeil Dairies, reported The Korean Herald.

The police revealed that the employees of the PR agency created 50 online profiles with the intent of posting malicious comments against Maeil Dairies on online platforms, including a mothers’ community with 2.8 million members.

Comments included suggesting that Maeil Dairies had harmful ingredients in its milk due to its proximity to a nuclear power plant, even stating that the company’s milk “tastes like iron”.

Maeil Dairies had reported Namyang Dairy to the police in 2019, and investigations were carried out against six employees and Mr Hong Won-sik.

Though Namyang posted an apology on its website, given the recent case, it goes to show that a leopard doesn’t change its spots.

In fact, other cases of slander by Namyang date all the way back to 2013, 2010, and 2009.


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Perhaps with Mr Hong stepping down, the company will stop finding itself in such sticky situations.

Feature Image: Oksana_Slepko / Shutterstock.com (Image is for illustration purposes only)

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