crime

2 men arrested for selling falsely labeled Fukushima onions

27 Comments

Two men in Fukushima Prefecture have been arrested for relabeling spring onions grown in the prefecture to conceal their point of origin.

According to police, the men, who work for a food wholesaler based in Miharu, are accused of falsely labeling the onions to indicate that they were grown in Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures, TBS reported Wednesday.

Police said the men first began selling the onions to schools and elderly care homes last January. Around 31 transactions have been discovered so far. The men claim the produce was tested for radiation before being shipped and was found to be within acceptable limits, according to TBS.

The men were charged with obtaining money by deception. They released a joint statement through their lawyers in which they said they were unable to meet demand for vegetables grown outside Fukushima Prefecture. They also apologized to those affected, particularly children.

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27 Comments
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I wonder how many of these cases slipped past officials before someone was caught? Hopefully none but this isn't the first food 're-labeling' incident I've heard about.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@c1400

How many? Hundreds I'd imagine. It doesn't appear as though anyone is really checking anything, after all, if a guy can board a plane tooled up, in a place you'd hope had the tightest security possible, then how many dodgy food items can slip though the nets with ease? I shouldn't wonder if this story is just a token arrest just to make people feel safer. It has been a few month since the last one of these appeared reported on here. Shall we say another one in about, well, let's say, 5 months, just to keep everyone quiet?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

..............if a guy can board a plane tooled up...............

He didn't, don't exaggerate.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"the men, who work for a food wholesaler based in Miharu"

Why can't the wholesaler be named, isn't that for the best, so schools and carehomes can avoid doing business with them ?

"Around 31 transactions have been discovered so far. "

Sickening !

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They also apologized to those affected, particularly children

Geez. Let's hope that there was nothing wrong with the veggies in the first place. I'd laugh them out of court and into a cell for the audacity of that 'apology'.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"particularly children"??? So they don't have the same amount of remorse for potentially endangering the older generation? I don't care if their company isn't able to meet demand. If they kill their customers, there will be NO demand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh, nice! Selling them to schools and elderly care homes. Another fine example of Japanese business ethics! And, I wonder who tested them before sale? One of their equally kaniving mates? Sadly, I fear this is not an isolated incident and I suspect there are many produce items from Fukushima in markets labeled incorrectly to sell them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Should have sold them to Tepco at a discount.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You can bet this is happening at at least 100 times this rate with police and government turning a blind eye.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I know it is hard for a lot of people, but the people that can should really try to buy from local veggie stands if possible. It is usually a bit cheaper and much more delicious anyway. Hopefully stricter penalties will be in place from false labeling and also better testing measures that will allow the public to be confident in the the goods they are purchasing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

well of course. What did anyone expect would happen?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"The men claim the produce was tested for radiation before being shipped and was found to be within acceptable limits, according to TBS" The onions were observed inside a black box. Those that did not glow were deemed acceptable.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I know I've said it many times but all farming should have been banned for 5 years.

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Hey, they apologized (after they got caught, mochiron), what else can you ask for?!

I'm with Ewan here: name the company. Their business would probably suffer heavily and hopefully their company would go under quickly. We can do without jokers like this. In any business.

No chance this was an isolated event. No. Way. But people get tired of being careful all the time and soon forget about te dangers they can't see.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I'm with you zichi. Restrictions could have been eventually eased after proof of safety based on real facts/studies. I feel this would have been a better way to keep some trust in dealing with this mess. But this would have hurt feelings too much so let's pretend everything is ok and everybody is nice. If not, then appologize and all is fine... How can you build trust with those kind of happenings? Too much people avoiding to face facts and taking responsibilities. Deceiving. Again and again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Please disclose the name of the wholesaler.

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The farms within the prefecture should surely be under quarantine by now. Shut down, gates sealed and crops sprayed with poison to kill remaining growth until further notice. There shouldn't be any viable vegetables to tempt scoundrels like these two. How many lives have they destroyed in the years to come for a measly profit? Fukushima is not over, it's not finished. Nothing is mending. The plant is STILL pumping out radioactive isotopes. The accident didn't happen 18 months ago and things are better now.......We are 18 months INTO the accident and counting. Batten down the hatches folks.

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I think people forget that Fukushima is freaking huge. If the produce were on the border with Ibaraki but on Fukushima side, why is it any worse than Ibaraki side food?

Food above federal limits (no matter how ridiculously stringent they are) shouldn't be sold. At the same time, people shouldn't judge the food based on the prefecture. I bet most people never stopped to see that FUKUSHIMA IS THE THIRD LARGEST PREFECTURE IN ALL OF JAPAN. Areas in the south and west areas of the prefecture, as well as northern boarder were entirely spared from fallout and no different than any other place in Japan.

FunnybonesupOct. 12, 2012 - 09:22AM JST

The farms within the prefecture should surely be under quarantine by now. Shut down, gates sealed and crops sprayed with poison to kill remaining growth until further notice.

No, there's two options for areas with above legal concentrations of Cs137 (not that much farmland):

1) Plant things that have high Caesium intake for the next five years, and remove the grown plants for disposal. This speeds up the environmental halflife by a large factor, and combined with the Cs134 decay rate you can expect less than 20% radiation remaining by the end of the 5 year period.

2) Use potassium rich fertilizers and plant low caesium intake plants like rice, using verified clean water. Even in 2000Bq/kg soil the expected uptake would be less than half of the legal limit.

The primary way is likely the best of both worlds, the farmers can keep their fields from turning to dust and no produce is contaminated.

AmidalismOct. 11, 2012 - 11:10AM JST

So they don't have the same amount of remorse for potentially endangering the older generation? I don't care if their company isn't able to meet demand. If they kill their customers, there will be NO demand.

Two things are wrong with this statement:

1) Elderly are less likely to develop and die from illness from radiation, as their expected life remaining is low compared to expected time for cancer to develop. Children have the longest expected years left, so they are most at risk and theoretically would suffer the most damage. "particularly children" is the proper judgement in this case.

2) You cannot kill someone with radiation tainted produce in any short period of time. You are far more likely to die from heavy metals plants absorb from mountain water in the area. Even with food five times above the Japanese legal limit, WHO (world health organization) has found no conclusive evidence of any increase in deaths or decrease in health, and set their recommendations at that level.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

zichiOct. 11, 2012 - 01:06PM JST

I know I've said it many times but all farming should have been banned for 5 years.

What do you propose they do with the farms then? The land would become useless within 5 years unless plants are there to keep the soil together, but if plants are just left there the ecological halflife of Cs137 is extended and in five years the only difference is a lack of Cs134 but practically no other change.

Not to mention some farms in Fukushima were so far from everything that they are probably cleaner now than they were fifty years ago. What about those farms?

Hell, what about the prefecture at all? The power plants no longer provide money, fishing income took a cliff dive into rocks, and now farming? That's well over a quarter of the economy gone right there, most of legally and technically still valid fields that are politically and socially being trampled upon for no reason other than to sell more papers and CM time.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@basroil: the farming labels do not specify which part of fukushima something was grown in. That's why a fukushima label is an entry pass to play a game of russian roulette: Will this vegetable be from one of the few untouched farming areas, or could it be from the area of farmlands that's still running despite a scientifically proven vast OVERALL increase in radiation, despite testing SOME samples to be with "acceptable" limits. What about the ones they don't test?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

jumpultimatestars is right. My local supermarket has had Fukushima peaches at rock-bottom prices this summer, but not knowing which part of Fukushima means no one is tempted to buy. If the government had clearly and decisively shut down all agriculture in the affected areas (not just Fukushima) so that the consumer could be sure that all produce on the shelves was guaranteed to be from unaffected areas, I'm sure more people would be willing to buy stuff with a Fukushima label. I know I would.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

basroil,

because the gov't didn't take immediate action following the nuclear disaster, contaminated foodstuffs reached the market place. Some above and some below the legal limits which damaged the public trust in the food supply. This not only happened with produce from Fukushima but also from other prefectures with contaminated soil.

All farming east of Fukushima city should have been banned for one year while it was discovered which farm land was contaminated and which wasn't. All farming on contaminated land should have been banned for a further 4 years while the levels of contamination were investigated and action taken to reduce the contamination.

During that time a license system is introduced so that farms with low or no contamination can start to grow crops again. I think a license system has been introduced for rice growing.

A license system would create greater public trust for Fukushima produce. Food labels are quite meaningless when it only says "grown in Fukushima?"

The farms unable to grow crops because of contamination would receive grants/compensation from the gov't/TEPCO equal to their average income during five years prior to the nuclear disaster.

When farms begin to grow crops again they are required to have the foodstuff tested for contamination. In the UK, 25 years after Chernobyl, there are still about 350 farms required to test their produce before sending it to market. The testing would continue until a clean period of 10 years is reached.

The gov't failed to give and show priority for dealing with contaminated foodstuffs.

The land would become useless within 5 years unless plants are there to keep the soil together.

That is not correct since land can be left for fallow. Farms can grow plants which would help reduce the level of contamination but not suitable for the market.

The power plants no longer provide money, fishing income took a cliff dive into rocks, and now farming?

Those prefectures with atomic plants still receive their billions in the so called nuclear energy tax. Interesting that you make a comment on fishing when in the past on other posts you stated that the radiation blown out to sea was safe because it would sink to the bottom and be absorbed by the rock? Unlike farming, fishing is not limited to a particular area and they can fish in other places.

Because the public trust was damaged stories like the one in the post won't help to restore it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@basroil. Good idea. Well said.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The farm-land in Fukushima should be used to grow bio mass fuel to be burnt in Bio Power Generating stations where the radioactive ash should be gathered and returned to its rightful owners. And the government should provide whatever the farmers need to convert their land and run a profit.

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SquidBertOct. 12, 2012 - 03:21PM JST

The farm-land in Fukushima should be used to grow bio mass fuel to be burnt in Bio Power Generating stations where the radioactive ash should be gathered and returned to its rightful owners. And the government should provide whatever the farmers need to convert their land and run a profit.

Most good biofuel crops are bad for the soil there, but if you mean biomass for heating then yes, quite easily fits into what I mentioned before about planting "high" intake crops. They don't reduce concentrations by much, but you can get a few nanograms per kg soil a year if low potassium fertilizer is used, which would very quickly add up. The entire release of Cs137 was about 4kg, of which 3kg went somewhere other than land, so a couple thousand tons of produce and waste products is a very good way to get rid of excess contamination if it goes to energy (heating).

However, the primary issue here is that completely unaffected farmers are being turned away from their normal customers out of irrational fears. As mentioned above, a licensing system to have farmers prove they were in non-affected areas is the minimum step the government needs, second is that no licensed farmers be discriminated against. Until unaffected farmers can sell their crops at fair market value, we will continue to see more of these types of people.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I meant biomass for use in Thermal Plants suited for the purpose. Would have the effect of getting the farmers back on their feet, clear some of the cesium out of the ground, although a Finnish researcher that I talked to have shown through research after Chernobyl, that even though cesium binds to the soil it is far more likely to sink to deeper substrates and finally into the ground water. Still whatever can be taken out would be helpful. Additionally it would be a power source which if handled correctly would be very clean, and practically zero sum for co2.

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SquidBertOct. 12, 2012 - 07:49PM JST

I meant biomass for use in Thermal Plants suited for the purpose. Would have the effect of getting the farmers back on their feet, clear some of the cesium out of the ground, although a Finnish researcher that I talked to have shown through research after Chernobyl, that even though cesium binds to the soil it is far more likely to sink to deeper substrates and finally into the ground water. Still whatever can be taken out would be helpful. Additionally it would be a power source which if handled correctly would be very clean, and practically zero sum for co2.

Practically none of those, especially none that are capable of trapping enough Cs to be legally operable. Of the total energy production of Japan, a sizable chunk goes to hot water heating, which can utilize a far wider variety of biomass and are easier to seal off for use with contaminated sources with off the shelf products.

As for Cs binding, it depends on the soil type. Japan is quite different from Europe, especially in mineral content and rainfall. Preliminary tests showed that most of the Cs would remain concentrated in the topsoil if it ever even got that far. As with Chernobyl, a good deal of it was deposited in the leaves of trees in the affected area, more so than exposed ground. Cross contamination is likely a larger issue than Cs going further down in the soil.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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