Nov 07, 2013

    Takashimaya, Daimaru own up to food fraud


    MAJOR department-store chains Takashimaya and Daimaru said on Tuesday that some of their restaurants and stores misrepresented items on their menus, becoming the latest in a string of companies to own up to food fraud.

    More Japanese firms have come out to admit they had been selling food with labels falsely claiming high-quality or expensive ingredients, in a scandal that is threatening to undermine the country's reputation for safe, high-quality produce.

    Japan's hotels, restaurants and food shops were warned yesterday over the dishonest labelling.

    "It's extremely regrettable as it seriously undermines consumer confidence," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular press conference, speaking about the widening scandal.

    "The Consumer Affairs Agency will take strict actions under the law (against misleading representations)," he said.

    Mr Suga, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's right-hand man, was speaking after luxury department-store chain Takashimaya admitted that, for years, labels claiming the use of top-of-the-range prawns or freshly squeezed orange juice were used for produce made with inferior ingredients.

    For example, the department store used giant tiger prawns to make a "Japanese tiger prawn" terrine, sold under the luxury French brand Fauchon.

    Japanese tiger prawn is widely considered a top shrimp, and one that can command premium prices in this seafood-loving nation.

    The company insisted that the widespread false labelling was due to honest mistakes, echoing excuses from a string of hotels that had long served meals claiming quality ingredients that were not part of the dish.

    A number of major hotel chains - including Hankyu Hanshin Hotels, which operates the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Osaka, among others - have admitted that their restaurants have long falsely labelled food on their menus.