« ウナギ偽装 | トップページ | 自殺実態白書 »

2008年7月 4日 (金)


(Jul. 4, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Food mislabeling never pays

ウナギ偽装 食品不正は隠し通せない(7月4日付・読売社説)

Trading firm Uohide in Osaka and seafood wholesaler Shinko Gyorui Ltd. in Kobe allegedly made huge undue profits by mislabeling grilled Chinese eel as domestic.

Police searched their offices Thursday over alleged violations of the Unfair Competition Prevention Law.




Their scheme to camouflage the false labelings was extremely malicious. Uohide established a bogus production company, which on paper sold 256 tons of grilled eel to Shinko Gyorui through a complicated system involving two trading firms.


(camouflage=偽装) (malicious=悪意のある、故意の) (bogus=偽の、偽りの)

Grilled Chinese eel mislabeled as a high-quality product from Isshikicho, Aichi Prefecture, made it to store shelves. Many consumers apparently were tricked by upmarket labeling into buying the low-grade Chinese product at twice the price of Chinese eel. Additionally, antibacterial chemicals prohibited in cultivated fish and other foods by the Food Sanitation Law were detected in the eel recalled from the market.

The firms took advantage of consumer desire for food safety and security, and this has further reinforced consumers' distrust in food labeling.


(store=蓄える、供給する文法:個々では他動詞) (upmarket labeling=店先のラベル表示?) (antibacterial chemicals=抗菌剤)



Harsh punishments needed


An Uohide official has said the company decided to falsify the origin of the Chinese eel because the amount in stock was increasing due to the unpopularity of Chinese products following several people being poisoned by eating Chinese gyoza contaminated with a pesticide.

However, this is a twisting of logic since the company allegedly planned the mislabeling before the poisoning incidents surfaced.


A Shinko Gyorui division chief is suspected of receiving 10 million yen from Uohide, which also allegedly asked him to take all the blame for mislabeling in return for receiving 100 million yen in hush money.


But Shinko Gyorui as a company is not immune from blame because it failed to recall eel from stores quickly, continuing their sales even after a company affiliated with it warned of the possibility of mislabeling.


(immune=罪を免れる) (company affiliatee with it=神港魚類の関連会社)

Last year, Meat Hope Co., a meat packing company in Hokkaido, was found to have mislabeled ground beef mixed with pork and lamb as 100 percent beef. Even after that, however, food-related scandals kept surfacing, such as cases involving the time-honored companies Akafuku and Senba Kitcho. Just last month a meat wholesaler in Gifu Prefecture was found to have mislabeled low-grade beef as high-quality Hida beef.


The mislabeling of Chinese eel is said to have generated undue profits totaling 300 million yen. Police are even planning to slap fraud charges on the firms, which allows for stricter penalties on violators. Authorities should clear up the whole picture of the affair and impose severe punishments on the violators to put an end to recurrence of mislabeling cases.


(slap=取り締まる) (recurrence=再発、再現、繰り返し)


Society's tolerance at an end

The latest case surfaced with a call to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry's hotline soliciting information about food mislabeling. The hotline last fiscal year received 4,574 calls, more than five times the number of calls it had when it was opened several years ago.

In addition to the disclosure of inside information from whistle-blowers, consumers are paying close attention to mislabelings. Not only the food industry but all other industries should remember that they can never succeed in concealing illicit businesses in today's society.


(conceal=隠す) (illicit=不法な、禁制の)

The ministry has disclosed information of food-related misconduct based on the Japan Agricultural Standards Law. According to the law, a person found violating the law can be sentenced up to one year in prison and a corporate violator can be fined up to 100 million yen. But those punishments can be handed down only when the ministry's improvement orders are not obeyed. There is no precedent of such penalties. However those severe punishments are meaningless unless they are actually handed down to violators.



A consumer agency will be created next spring that will have authority over consumer laws, including those related to food safety and labeling.


With the creation of this agency, inspection powers currently in the hands of various central government entities and local governments according to different laws should be unified and enhanced while a system that never fails in punishing violators should be developed.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 4, 2008)


« ウナギ偽装 | トップページ | 自殺実態白書 »





« ウナギ偽装 | トップページ | 自殺実態白書 »