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2008年10月30日 (木)

汚染ハム販売

2008/10/30--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 29(IHT/Asahi: October 30,2008)

EDITORIAL: Itoham cyanide scare

伊藤ハム―企業倫理へのきつい教訓

To our horror and disgust, yet another food-related scandal has surfaced.

 また食品会社か。そうあきれたくなるような出来事だ。 

This time, cyanide compounds exceeding standards established under the water supply law were detected from spring water used in the production of wieners and prepared pizza products at a Chiba Prefecture factory of Itoham Foods Inc.

 千葉県にある伊藤ハムの工場で、ウインナーやピザをつくる時に使っていた地下水から、基準を超すシアン化合物が検出された。 

A "responsible" food maker would have stopped using the water and switched to a different aquifer, or suspended production until the problem had been sorted out. But at Itoham's factory, nothing of the sort was done. The company kept using the same spring water and distributing its products around the nation for about three weeks.

 ふつうならば、ここで汚染された水を使うのをやめ、別の井戸の水に切り替えたり、生産を一時停止して点検したりするところだろう。ところが、この工場は何の手も打たないまま、その後も約3週間にわたり、同じ水で商品をつくり、全国へ向けて出荷し続けていた。 

We cannot understand how a food industry giant like Itoham could have been so callous. How could it have ignored the most basic concerns for food safety and hygiene? We can only conclude that the company must have thrown corporate ethics out the window and stopped caring.

 食品を扱う大手企業でありながら、理解しがたい対応である。なぜ安全や衛生という最も大切な問題を軽んじてしまったのか。企業倫理を忘れ、緊張感に欠けていたとしか思えない。 

An Itoham representative noted that when above-permissible levels of cyanide compounds were first detected from the spring water, the person in charge at the Chiba factory assumed the test results "had to be wrong" because they defied all previous inspection data.

 会社側の説明によると、それまでの地下水の検査で異常な値が出ていなかったため、初めは工場の担当者が「検査の数値が異常ではないのか」と思ってしまったらしい。 

But this was emphatically not a situation that warranted such an arbitrary assumption or inaction. We cannot stress enough that the food items being made with that water were quite popular around the nation, especially among children.

 だが、「大丈夫だろう」という勝手な思いこみや油断が許されるはずもない。汚染された水を使って生産していたのは、どこの食卓にも並び、子どもも好んで口にする食べ物なのだ。 

When the company finally had follow-up inspections done, the results kept showing above-legal levels of cyanide compounds. And yet, the company kept the findings under wraps.

 案の定、再検査を重ねたところ、基準を超す値が続けて出た。 

 その間、シアン化合物が検出されたことは公表されなかった。 

In explaining why the company failed to take proactive steps, the Itoham representative cited poor in-house communication--namely, that the water quality problem was never relayed from the factory to the head office.

But surely, is it not the responsibility of any food manufacturer to make absolutely sure that every worker lives up to the strictest standards of safety and hygiene?

 対応が後手に回った理由として会社側は、社内の連絡態勢の悪さを挙げた。水質に問題があるという情報が工場から本社に伝わらなかったというのだ。だが、安全や衛生への意識を現場の隅々にまで徹底させるのは企業としての責任ではないか。 

When any doubts arise about product quality, necessary steps must be taken at once, and even damaging disclosures ought to be made. For having neglected to do so, Itoham now has a huge price to pay.

 品質にかかわる問題があれば、すぐに必要な対策をとる。不利な情報も隠さず公表する。それを怠った伊藤ハムが支払うツケは大きい。 

The company kept using the contaminated spring water for the production of 26 types of food items totaling about 3.31 million units, all of which had to be recalled and trashed. The scandal has not only inconvenienced retailers around the nation, but it will inevitably hurt the company's image and seriously affect sales.

 汚染された水を使い続けた間に生産された商品は、26品目、約331万個にものぼる。この膨大な商品を回収せざるをえなくなり、せっかくの食品を無駄にすることになる。全国の小売店にも迷惑をかける。企業イメージは傷つき、売り上げが落ち込むことも避けられまい。 

The string of food-related scandals, which started a few years ago, shows no sign of ending. Unsuspecting consumers have been deceived about the origins of the food they buy, and been sold items labeled with falsified "eat-by" dates.

Some food companies have been driven into bankruptcy or voluntary closure for failing to deal appropriately with their scandals.

 ここ数年、食品会社の不祥事は後を絶たない。産地の偽装もあれば、賞味期限の改ざんも目立つ。問題を起こしたあとの対応を誤り、倒産や廃業に追い込まれた企業もある。 

Did Itoham not learn anything from these past examples? Thankfully, the cyanide scare does not seem to have caused any health problems among consumers. But in terms of proper corporate behavior, there are many lessons to be learned.

 そうした過去の経験から、伊藤ハムはいったい何を学んだのか。 

 今回は健康に影響が出ることはなさそうだが、企業のあり方という点で、くむべき教訓は多い。 

The longer a company ignores a problem, the graver the problem will grow, as will the consequences. The Itoham scandal reminds us anew of this obvious truth, which applies to all fields of industry.

 対応が遅れれば遅れるほど傷口が広がり、企業の打撃は大きくなる。業界を問わず、そんな当たり前のことを改めて、この不祥事は教えている。 

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