IKEA Apologizes After Being Accused of Cultural Appropriation Over Jerk Chicken Dish
“This is what happens when you try and cash in on a culture with no input from that culture whatsoever," wrote one social media user
IKEA found themselves in hot water over a new jerk chicken dish which many on Twitter were quick to point out didn’t use traditional Caribbean ingredients.
Stores in the U.K. recently announced the addition of the item to their menu and a swift backlash followed as photos of the offering hit social media.
“This is IKEA’s jerk chicken and rice and peas and no I’m not eating it,” wrote one Twitter user, including a photo of the dish they were served in stores.
The photo showed a piece of jerk chicken next to a bed of white rice and green peas. As U.K. outlet Metro pointed out, traditionally Caribbean jerk chicken dishes are made with rice that’s cooked with kidney beans or gungo peas — not green peas.
“Hahaha…#IKEA jerk chicken ‘rice and peas’ a Caribbean traditional dish . What’s wrong with this photo?” wrote one Twitter user, spelling out the problem with a “rice and peas” hashtag.
“It’s literally white rice and garden peas @IKEA did you even Google it?!” wrote another. “If you were confused, beans are called peas in the Caribbean.”
They also went on to accuse the Swedish retailer of cultural appropriation.
“This is what happens when you try and cash in on a culture with no input from that culture whatsoever.”
Added another: “Yet another example of a brand with no diversity around the table.”
However, not everyone saw a problem with the menu item.
“Ikea dont owe anyone any apology,” wrote one Twitter user, pointing out that the retailer advertised the dish as “Jerk chicken and rice and peas NOT rice and beans.”
“How many Jamaican chefs try other culture food and add twist to it?” they added.
Others also pointed out that they didn’t necessarily expect to get an authentic Caribbean meal at the Swedish-founded company.
“you went to ikea, from swedish people. expecting actual jerk chicken & rice n peas?” wrote one Twitter user.
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The company went on to apologize for the new jerk chicken.
“IKEA is a Swedish home furnishing company with a much-loved food offer. We take inspiration from many countries around the world and have always worked to combine different flavors and ingredients to offer delicious, healthy and affordable dishes. We’re aware that our new jerk chicken, served with rice and peas has created some conversation and in some cases offense,” Lorena Lourido, Country Food Manager, IKEA UK and Ireland tells PEOPLE in a statement.
“Our intention was to create a dish for many people to enjoy but we appreciate that we may have got it wrong. We apologize and we are now relooking at the dish.”