The Consumer Affairs Agency has reprimanded three major hotel and restaurant operators over mislabeling menu items. Since October, there have been 307 cases of food mislabeling uncovered, which the agency says is threatening to undermine the country's reputation for safe, high-quality produce.
The companies reprimanded are Hankyu Hanshin Hotels Co, Hanshin Hotel Systems (which operates the 5-star Ritz-Carlton Osaka) and railway operator Kintetsu Corp.
The agency also said Friday companies that mislabel food or drink items may be fined.
The three companies, along with top department stores such as Takashimaya and Daimaru, have been ordered to take preventive measures against selling food with labels falsely claiming high-quality or expensive ingredients.
For example, Takashimaya admitted that for years labels claiming the use of top-of-the-range prawns or freshly-squeezed orange juice sat on produce made with inferior ingredients on 62 menu items at its stores in Tokyo's Shinjuku, Nihonbashi, Yokohama and Okayama. The department store also 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, while giant tiger prawns are more widely available.© Japan Today/AFP