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2016年2月 6日 (土)

廃棄食品横流し 安全優先の意識が欠けている

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Reselling of disposed food shows safety wasn’t given top priority
廃棄食品横流し 安全優先の意識が欠けている

Food that should have been thrown away has been distributed and ended up on many dining tables. This must be prevented from happening again.

Ichibanya Co., operator of the CoCo Ichibanya curry restaurant chain, had entrusted Daiko, an industrial waste disposal company in Aichi Prefecture, to discard frozen beef cutlets. However, Daiko illegally resold the cutlets, which ended up being sold at supermarkets and retailers.

There were suspicions some of the cutlets had been contaminated by a foreign substance. Daiko’s president reportedly tried to explain his actions by saying, “I succumbed to the temptation of being able to make a profit without spending money to dispose of the food.”

We are extremely concerned by Daiko’s attitude of giving precedence to making a profit by distributing the frozen cutlets, despite fears they could harm the health of consumers.

Daiko sold the cutlets to a noodle maker. At its facilities, the noodle maker was found to be storing 108 kinds of food, including miso and deli items sold at major convenience stores and by food makers. All these items appear to have been bought from Daiko — and were supposed to have been discarded.

Reselling such items had seemingly become a common practice. Police have launched an investigation into what is suspected to be a violation of the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law. We hope the police will quickly trace the distribution channels.

The waste management law obliges operators of waste disposal businesses to submit a report, called a manifest, to companies that produce the waste. The kinds and volumes of waste to be handled, as well as the method of disposal, must be specified in the report. This is meant to give transparency to the flow of industrial waste.

Reducing ‘food loss’

However, Daiko falsely reported to Ichibanya that all the cutlets “had been made into compost.” This shows there are limits to managing industrial waste through these reports.

The Environment Ministry should crack down on such deceitful operators by strengthening its guidance and screening of them, and by reviewing its inspection system of the manifest.

A response by operators who dispose of food will also be important to prevent further wrongdoing.

Since this scandal emerged, Ichibanya has decided it would no longer hand over food for disposal in its original state as a food product. Instead, items will be removed from the wrapping and mixed with other waste food sludge before being entrusted to an operator for disposal. In cases in which waste is discarded in the form of a food product, an Ichibanya employee will accompany the contractor to observe the disposal process until the final phase.

We hope operators that handle food will thoroughly implement such steps.

It must not be forgotten that what is known as “food loss” was behind this incident. Even excluding cases like this one, in which a foreign substance was thought to have contaminated a food product, about 6.4 million tons of food are discarded each year in Japan for various reasons, including the approach of their best-before date.

It can be said that the illegal reselling of food has taken advantage of the habit of discarding food that can still be consumed. The industry must come up with shrewd ways to reduce “food loss.”

Many consumers tend to avoid food nearing its best-buy date, and instead opt for items produced more recently. They need to reconsider their perceptions in this respect.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 5, 2016)


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