crime

Mie rice wholesaler raided over mislabeling scam

33 Comments

A rice wholesaler based in Mie Prefecture and its affiliates have been accused of perpetrating Japan's largest ever case of rice mislabeling, in an attempt to sell foreign rice as domestic product.

According to police, premises belonging to the Yokkaichi-based wholesaler Mitaki Shoji and its affiliates were raided and searched by police on Thursday. TBS reported that the company is accused of breaching the Japanese Agricultural Standards law by repackaging rice grown in China and the U.S. in an attempt to pass it off as domestic product. It is also accused of attempting to deceive buyers by lying about the quality of its rice.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the company is believed to have been deceiving its buyers for around three years. During that time, it is estimated to have sold around 4,386 tons of mislabeled rice, making it the largest such case in Japanese history.

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33 Comments
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Shock horror!

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Wow, no one noticed the taste was different, being inferior foreign rice?

21 ( +25 / -4 )

So much for the unique taste of Japanese rice, no-one could tell the difference!

20 ( +24 / -4 )

Another one bites the dust! The second food labeling scam this week. So, let's analyze Japanese business ethics, shall we? A multitude of good mislabeling scandals, insider trading, price fixing, corporate fraud, shoddy workmanship leading to deaths (Toyota). It seems the honorable samurai spirit is a load of horse poo!

23 ( +28 / -5 )

more and more scandals every day. Every company seems somewhat involved in scandals.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

But...but...foreign rice tastes bad, doesn't it? Only Japanese rice is unique and delicious, that's why we're not allowed to try any other kind to make up our own minds.

Yet another food mislabelling scandal.

19 ( +23 / -4 )

I bet they just didnt want to cause "unnecessary confusion " to customers by having different labels on their product.

No sweat - a couple of bows with "moushiwake gozaimasen " in front of media, a hollow statement along the lines of " we will sincerely reflect on this and take steps to regain customer trust blah, blah ,blah...maybe a 10% paycut for a couple of months for the head honcho and if things get really hot , court might eventually even hand down a suspended sentence. All is good in good ole Japan -back to business ....

13 ( +15 / -2 )

According to a former employee this has been going on for more than 30 years and that the current president of the company is fully aware of it. Very appalling! Because the penalties are too light for this type of crime, it is repeated for profit again (and again and again and again and again).

11 ( +11 / -0 )

wanderlust: So much for the unique taste of Japanese rice, no-one could tell the difference!

That and the unique sensitivity of Japanese consumers, in tune with the subtle tastes of things that non-Japanese cannot possibly detect. I laugh every time I hear about one of these "mislabeling" scandals I think of all the times Japanese - and foreigners - have tried to convince me of that hogwash.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

As noted above, when there is no surprise and precedents that fill a room of filing cabinets common sence would USUALLY result in a penalty overhaul combined with a system of checks. But perhaps I just do not understand the culture. Shogani. Rice tastes like the sauce you put on it...

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Just the tip of the iceberg. I'm betting this practice is much more commonplace than we're led to believe.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

One of my favorite mislabelings is an enterprising company that boasts 無添加調理だから mutenkachouridakara (literally, additive-free preparation so..) in sauces that have incomplete ingredient breakdowns.

Suspiciously not 無添加, but surfing the wave of popularity for mutenka MSG-free food.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"no one noticed the taste was different"

Somebody noticed. Otherwise they wouldn't have been raided.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I wonder if they checked it for radiation................ wudnt be surprised if they find some!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Actually GW, it is very unlikely to find radiation in rice cos very little has been grown in the effected areas. However, this will change soon enough as some of the farmers have been given the go-ahead for planting.

'Bushido' has become 'bullshido'. :D

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

On behalf of Japan, I apologize.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I worry about this kind of scandal every time I buy something to eat here. Even when I ask where things are sourced (and I do), I wonder how much of it is actually radioactively-tainted beef, rice and other foods bought on the cheap in Fukushima.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So now the truth begins to unfold as more and more Japanese firms and food manufacturers have been found to have intentionally misrepresented and cheated their consumers. What happened to the honesty popularly attached to the Japanese people?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's all about GREED. Import cheap rice, mix, and sell it as expensive Japanese rice. Got to give those greedy merchants profit motive. Wouldn't surprise me if radiated Fukushima rice is thrown into the mix. Have yet to see any radioactive rice destroyed, have you?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The thing is that this crime actually kind of hard to pull off because the Japanese prefer shorter grain rice, while most of the world eats long-grain rice such as jasmine rice from Thailand and the rice grown in eastern Texas and Arkansas. The accused person--in my opinion!--somehow managed to bring in the shorter grain Calrose rice from northern California, not an easy feat given the extreme difficulty of importing rice into Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So they got caught. Not a thing will happen. Not. One. Thing.

They black suited oyaji take their pals in 'prominent positions' out for some kyabakura and some drinking and a little enveloped handshake afterwards and it's all forgotten. The Japanese populace doesn't understand and doesn't care.

Great place

5 ( +6 / -1 )

B-b-b-b-but everyone KNOWS Japanese rice is the most delicious! So where were the 4,386 tonnes of complaints about 'inferior' rice (and I literally was just told this morning by a man that Japanese food is superior and tastes so much better!)?

Better yet, why do I suspect there will be nothing done about this save at worst a suspended sentence? Now, the farmers in Fukushima are being allowed to grow rice and self-test and then send it out, so if there is rice from China being mislabeled as Japanese you can bet your bottom dollar rice from that area is being mislabeled as well. They need to become MUCH more strict about this kind of thing in terms of the law. Start jailing the CEOs of such companies instead of handing them golden parachutes, shut the companies down (don't allow them to simply change their name), etc. This is about the third food scandal in two days.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

@Knox Harrington

So they got caught. Not a thing will happen. Not. One. Thing. They black suited oyaji take their pals in 'prominent positions' out for some kyabakura and some drinking and a little enveloped handshake afterwards and it's all forgotten. The Japanese populace doesn't understand and doesn't care. Great place

And there it is, folks! That is exactly what will happen.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I still remember a longtime ago when some retailer sold lower quality beef as higher priced stuff. The excuse given was that they did not want to disappoint their customers.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It is also accused of attempting to deceive buyers by lying about the quality of its rice.

The implications of that sentence are rather infuriating.

The funny thing is that just about anywhere else in the world, if there was a Fukushima-like disaster at home, the companies would be labeling the rice as 100 percent foreign to make sales!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Relabeling is a standard business practise here if you are in the food industry, a few years ago there were relabeling scandals breaking nearly weekly and became so common it was no longer news worthy.

Just be aware that what you are eating may not relate to what the label says, just to name a few like snow brand, meat hope ring a bell anyone? .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Relabeling goes on everywhere, for sure. It's not a typical Japanese phenomenon. What is typical is the stuck-up, pompous attitude of Japanese when it comes to locally produced food. As if it would be somehow "special". If I was Japanese, I would be ashamed of scams such as this one. I would be ashamed of people trying to push out questionable produce from and around Fukushima. I would be ashamed of the complete lack of transparency and liability.

But I guess I am special.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Exactly, how many times haven't I heard somebody exclaim during a tv interview "I only buy locally grown produce, because I feel safe?" Well, dream on folks. For 3 years they managed to keep this scam alive and going? But eventually they couldn't keep one of their employees happy I guess. All these employees should be kicked in the butt as well for covering up this scam. Take the Hope it's Meat case a poster mentions. Apart from the foolish employees, it was well know in the meat industry that if you didn't know where to get rid of your spoiled meat, that instead of having to pay for the stuff to be disposed of properly, you actually got paid for it by calling Meat Hope. And nobody raised the alarm bells.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Raymond Chuang "the Japanese prefer shorter grain rice, while most of the world eats long-grain rice"

A lot of Japanese style rice is produced in other countries these days. We regularly buy brands made in the US and Italy. (I'm in the UK.) The article doesn't say, but I'd guess they were mixing imported Japanese style rice. Otherwise it would be too easy to spot the difference.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess a lot of people failed the placebo test

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A lot of Japanese style rice is produced in other countries these days.

albaleo, the closest thing I know of that is closest to the medium-grain rice preferred by the Japanese is Calrose rice, which was developed at the University of California (Davis) and first planted commercially in the late 1940's in the rice-growing regions along the Sacramento River north of Sacramento, California in the USA. it's an excellent quality rice to make Japanese foods that use rice like various types of sushi and mochi rice cakes.

This is why I think this unscrupulous rice wholesaler may have managed to get some Calrose rice and mixed it in with real Japanese medium-grain rice--and nobody found out until much later.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Trace elements of the good stuff adulterated with thousands of tons of inferior Chinese rice.

http://www.asahi.com/national/gallery_e/view_photo.html?national-pg/1024/NGY201310240045.jpg

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't shock about mislabeling and misleading about product. It happens all the time in other developed countries. I'll blame Globalization it destroy some of livelihood and their domestic market by flooding with cheap and poor quality products from outside. I'm big fan of capitalism but not fan for Globalization. Government should support domestic producers whose produce for domestic market only. Otherwise, it will happen like this one and problem with dishonesty in among the traders.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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