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Shabu-shabu restaurant mislabels beef on menu at 3 locations

36 Comments

Kisoji, a popular Nagoya-based shabu-shabu restaurant chain, has admitted that three of its restaurants listed Matsuzaka beef on their menus, when in fact they were serving another type of beef entirely.

The restaurants are located in Kariya (Aichi Prefecture), Osaka and Kobe, TBS reported Friday.

According to Kisoji officials, beginning in April of this year, the restaurants stated on their menus that they were featuring Matsuzaka beef and Saga beef in shabu-shabu or sukiyaki dishes. Instead, however, they were serving inexpensive Wagyu select marbled beef to their customers.

Following an investigation by the Consumer Affairs Agency, the company said that the amount of Matsuzaka and Saga beef in stock did not match the excess amount of product being sold. Kisoji officials believe that the transgression was committed in an effort to meet sales targets and increase the three restaurants' standing within the company.

Kisoji has announced that all customers who ate from the improperly labeled menus and bring their meal ticket stubs back to the restaurants will receive a full refund as an apology.

Kisoji offered a formal apology to its customers, saying: "We are terribly sorry for the trouble we have caused. We will work tirelessly to make sure that this does not happen again in the future."

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36 Comments
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Perhaps their apology should be "labeled" as disingenuous! It probably should read "We are terribly sorry we got caught. We will work tirelessly to make sure this does not happen again."

16 ( +16 / -0 )

We don't go to those expensive restaurants daily, but on special occasions like birthday or pay day. Guess not many people can really recognize if it is really expensive Matsuzaka or Saga beef as long as stated on the menu.

This kind of transgression might ruin the memories of those who had good time eating there aside from the price they paid. Companies should balance their sales and customers' satisfaction carefully.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Kisoji has announced that all customers who ate from the improperly labeled menus and bring their meal ticket stubs back to the restaurants will receive a full refund as an apology. " Yeah, because I always keep my refunds from chain restaurants where I ate, as you may never know, or what??!! This is just BS. If they are seroius about an apology they should offer a week or so huge discounts to everyone. But this kind of stories happened before and will happen again so long as there are not really strict laws against this kind of fraud. I gave up long time ago any believe in the honesty of japanese resturant managers. They are all businessmen after all and want to make a profit.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

When are they gonna start actually penalizing these scammers? That is the reason that food mislabeling is so common in Japan. They make a few apologies, refund a bit of cash and all is forgotten. It is false and misleading advertising to scam consumers and increase company profits. The company should be facing extremely hefty fines and the senior management should be facing jail terms.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Kisoji offered a formal apology to its customers, saying: “We are terribly sorry for the trouble we have caused. We will work tirelessly to make sure that this does not happen again in the future.”

Typical Japanese apology -- totally meaningless. Oh, we sincerely apologize for "the trouble we have caused". No mention of the fact that you committed fraud and basically stole from your own customers. That's not worth apologizing for, just the "trouble". And we'll "work tirelessly" to improve, until the next time we are caught.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Have to agree with a lot of you here... who honestly keeps receipts for restaurants for a simple night out. We're not talking major events like weddings/company parties here...

I said this before with the last round of lies (the hotels...):

I think the company should be forced to provide extremely reduced price meals to X customers, until all money made from fake labeling is exhausted. That is to say, not only the profits, but ALL money made from sales of fake food should be removed from the company.

Rather than breaking even and apologizing their way out of it, they should take a significant financial blow. It would only take one or two companies getting hammered in this way to dissuade others from trying it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Depends on whether these restaurant managers made an honest mistake or, however unlikely, cheated on their own account. Or, did Kisoji HQ tell these restaurant managers, we don't care how you do it, but raise profits or else? Also of interest is, did HQ call the Consumer Affairs Agency voluntarily, as soon as they find out the excess of 1000man yen in the books or if it was some disgruntled employee blowing the whistle. They overcharged customers 1,500 yen per plate and as there were over 7,000 servings, that makes for a handsome profit of over 10 million yen. No chump change. The good thing is, it was real beef. Imagine if a "beef bowl chain" would be caught mislabeling their "beef" for extra profits. That would be far more interesting. And while they are at it, also check if these overpriced cows are getting the proper amount of beer, massages and what they snack on while listening to Mozart. Sounds nice on tv, but I am having my doubts about that a little bit.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As jerseyboy correctly points out this is a case of over 7000 cases of THEFT/STEALING.............................

The keystones MUST arrest & prosecute the CRIMINALS!!!

Anything else is BS!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Another irregular verb: I accidentally mislabel; you commit fraud; he/ she/ it blatantly robs the customers...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let's cut the crap here. They were knowingly ripping off customers. Where I come from, that would have serious legal implications. Fines would only be the tip of the iceberg. Yet again, here we are - apology with a slap on the wrist. Unacceptable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What type of beef and what was the origin of this beef? Why is that not reported?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Let's cut the crap here. They were knowingly ripping off customers. Where I come from, that would have serious legal implications. Fines would only be the tip of the iceberg.

Where I come from, I doubt it. It was reported today that the report from the inquiry into the horsemeat scandal has been delayed due to government intervention:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/15/official-report-horsemeat-scandal-delayed-new-food-safety-fears

As to prosecutions, there haven't been any.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10181726/Staggering-no-prosecutions-over-horsemeat-scandal-says-senior-MP.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/10572470/Horsemeat-scandal-a-year-on-nothing-has-changed.html

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wow I ate the Kariya location a few months ago and in all honesty it could have been low end beef and unless you are some expert who would actually know. The boss was paying for dinner so perhaps he or accounting has the receipt,

Aside, goes to show greed is a human failure no matter the country you find yourself.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Guess not many people can really recognize if it is really expensive Matsuzaka or Saga beef as long as stated on the menu.

I think it would be especially hard to tell when cut in those thin shabu shabu slices and let sit in the water and whatever else they throw in there. I hate shabu shabu because its a waste of (sometimes) good meat to me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Typical Japanese apology -- totally meaningless. Oh, we sincerely apologize for "the trouble we have caused". No mention of the fact that you committed fraud and basically stole from your own customers. That's not worth apologizing for, just the "trouble". And we'll "work tirelessly" to improve, until the next time we are caught.

As if any apology made by the corporate heads of other nations' corporations are 'meaningful'. Hello McFly! Is anybody home??

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

It was reported today that the report from the inquiry into the horsemeat scandal has been delayed due to government intervention.

I have never, ever in my whole life heard any British person claim the superiority and safeness of their national cuisine that way I do daily in Japan! Ever!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

We will work tirelessly to make sure that this does not happen again in the future.”

take them straight to a jail, make them work tirelessly.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I have never, ever in my whole life heard any British person claim the superiority and safeness of their national cuisine that way I do daily in Japan!

No, but stay on JT for any length of time, and you will see comments to the effect that "back home" or "in my country" people would be going to jail for business crimes. It's a common sentiment. Yet there have been some massive recent scandals - horsemeat passed off as beef in Britain, HSBC laundering Mexican drug money, numerous financial crimes by other financial firms exposed since 2008 - which have never led to a trial, let alone a jailing.

Non-Japanese living here certainly do claim stronger oversight when it comes to business in their home countries. But who has been jailed? It just isn't happening. The bank executives are able to cut deals with money that isn't theirs, and the case never comes to court. This is what HSBC did, and it didn't even ensure that such things could never happen again.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/14/us-hsbc-compliance-delaware-idUSBRE86C18H20120714

And it's much the same with the horsemeat scandal. The assessment of the article in the Tory rag I linked in my earlier comment was "A year on, nothing has changed". Specifically, it criticises the lack of transparency and accountability. The decision since then to shunt aside the overdue report into the scandal (initially due in spring 2014) is hardly reassuring.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I have never, ever in my whole life heard any British person claim the superiority and safeness of their national cuisine that way I do daily in Japan!

Daily? Who exactly are you talking to, and what kind of conversations are you having that you would hear this daily?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@wipeout: I do understand your point. But the fact is that I live in Japan, pay taxes in Japan, dine in local Japanese establishments (no choice, really), and therefore have a strong concern about current events in Japan. Naturally I'm angered when local businesses play fast and loose with consumer trust and safety. If I were living elsewhere, it would be different; wouldn't really give a toss about what goes on in this particular country.

Re: the horsemeat thing. I've raised this topic repeatedly in my college classes, to no avail! Not one of my students thinks that it's a big deal, and they don't see the relevance at all! (Of course, if they actually lived there it would be different, I'm quite sure.)

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I'm pretty sure the Consumer Affairs Agency was called by a disgruntled customer with the delicate Japanese palate we all have who took one bite of his boiled beef and spit it out saying, "This is no Matsuzaka beef!" And the store manager cringed in the background.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@borscht: Ha! you might just be right, and you've reminded me of a case a few years back when a restaurant in Hokkaido was found to be serving lower-grade beef to Chinese tourists. Some of my Japanese friends assured me that this would never happen to Japanese customers (way to blame the victim!) because of their more delicate palates. It was great fun to remind them of their words when the whole "giso" thing blew up in Osaka.

Daily? Who exactly are you talking to, and what kind of conversations are you having that you would hear this daily?

Do you even live in Japan?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Do you even live in Japan?

Do you? I've been here near 20 years. And you still didn't answer the questions.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Strangerland: in an average working week I speak at length with around seventy Japanese adults, and get to elicit and hear their opinions on a wide variety of matters. Believe me when I tell you that on an average day I get told that Japan's (fill-in-the-blank) is the safest, most delicious, most advanced, most (fill-in-the-blank) in the world. I do not think that my students/friends are atypical of Japanese people in general, in fact I think they are quite average. How many average Japanese people do you talk with in an average week?

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

But the fact is that I live in Japan, pay taxes in Japan, dine in local Japanese establishments (no choice, really), and therefore have a strong concern about current events in Japan. Naturally I'm angered when local businesses play fast and loose with consumer trust and safety.

I think I can agree with you there.

Re: the horsemeat thing. I've raised this topic repeatedly in my college classes, to no avail! Not one of my students thinks that it's a big deal, and they don't see the relevance at all! (Of course, if they actually lived there it would be different, I'm quite sure.)

Foreign teachers in Japan do what they have to do to get through their classroom hours. Clearly, it provides a vast amount of material for comments on this site about what Japanese think, what their ethics are, how intelligent they are, and a bunch of other judgements. But I don't value it as useful information; my own opinion is that classroom chinwags have a distorting effect both on teacher and student.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I have no idea. 20? 30? But I can understand how you would hear opinions like that more if you are teaching students, than I would in my day to day life.

But have you ever considered that the type of people you are talking to (English students) are not representative of Japanese people as a whole?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

But I don't value it as useful information; my own opinion is that classroom chinwags have a distorting effect both on teacher and student.

I totally agree with you. But I did not state that every single Japanese adult that I converse with is a student ... some of them are friends. And not all of those friends even speak much English, or have any interest in doing so! In fact, I can trust their opinions the most, because I'm absolutely certain they are not adapting them to my Western sensibilities.

But have you ever considered that the type of people you are talking to (English students) are not representative of Japanese people as a whole?

I think that's a good point. But for the most part, they (my students, friends, and acquaintances) are solidly middle-class people from middle-class backgrounds - in fact, if you wanted to paint a picture of the average educated Japanese suburbanite, you'd probably need look no further than one of my "friends" here. You are aware that most Japanese people regard themselves as middle class, aren't you?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

How many mislabeling scandals is that this week alone? five, I think. And so far this year it's uncountable. One of my friends often goes with her fellow middle-aged mothers group to eat at restaurants with jacked up prices, lines up for two hours to get a roll cake that costs a fortune (but is said to be very delicious on TV!), etc. She went to eat at one of the famous beef restaurants in Osaka City that was caught up in the big giso scandal earlier this year. I remember talking to her the week after she went there telling me how utterly amazing and delicious the Matsuzaka beef was. When the scandal broke and I asked her her feelings she said, "I was surprised, but I don't care because in my mind it was Matsuzaka beef and it was delicious." Now, she did go and get a voucher for a free meal, but the mentality says it all. There is no 'refined Japanese palette', and people can't tell the difference if it's high grade Matsuzaka, Hide, Omi, Tajima, etc., or some slab imported from somewhere and injected with fat to make it seem marbled. This has been proven time again, and so why anyone goes out to willingly pay a fortune just to say they ate certain kinds of beef when it's likely the same low-grade as everywhere else but is just mislabeled is beyond me. People are duped so easily, and nothing at all is done about it when the companies are caught. Sure... those who still have their ticket stubs can get a refund in this case, but the places still made fortunes off of cutting corners, and people will still go and eat their believing they are not being tricked.

You can't trust anything here any more in terms of labeling.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Let's just put it to rest as far as the debate on best of deals on food are really factually available in Japan. I will give the benefit of doubt when it comes to food safety and value for money here in Japan, especially when you only need to look around regionally for some of the unscrupulous behavior by merchants who have no regards in raking in profit by substituting harmful by products.

Back to the topic, the restaurant should be punished more severely. Simply due to the nature of how this fraud was discovered. They did not reveal an oversight nor coming clean to the public. They were caught!!

Japanese consumers are generally not cohesive enough to punish by boycotting, so the authority should at least fine the full amount of sales (7000 amounting to 10mil Yen as claimed) and direct it straight to a charitable organization, offer full refund to affected diners and shut the restaurants down for a month for first offense, or permanently for any repeat.

Someone did speak a foreigners' mind, at least it's still beef..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As if any apology made by the corporate heads of other nations' corporations are 'meaningful'. Hello McFly! Is anybody home??

nigelboy -- typical response. Let's not look at Japan's issues, let's just say "Oh, well everybody else does it too". The problem with that is Japan used to be, and still pretends to be, a country/society where absolute personal honor and integrity were the bedrock of the society. But now, by your own admission, it is no better in that regard than anywhere else. So what does Japan stand for now?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Gaijin: "Japanese consumers are generally not cohesive enough to punish by boycotting, so the authority should at least fine the full amount of sales (7000 amounting to 10mil Yen as claimed) and direct it straight to a charitable organization, offer full refund to affected diners and shut the restaurants down for a month for first offense, or permanently for any repeat."

Exactly! What's worse is that they'll do it again, suffer no further punishment, talk about how 'regrettable' it is and how much 'we'll work tirelessly to restore public trust', but it will be just as vapid and meaningless until something serious is done... which here will be never. Had they not been caught red-handed, which is what it always takes (and THAT is what is 'regrettable'; that they were caught!), they'd still be committing fraud and stealing from customers. In other nations the shops would be heavily penalized and shut down (at least for a short period).

0 ( +4 / -4 )

This is not a simple case of "mislabeling". It is organized fraud of customers, on a large scale, in multiple locations. Shut this dodgy company down for at least a few months to get their house in order - if they go bust, well zero loss to the Japanese consumer.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As long as it is finger licking good, who cares.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Finger-licking good shabu-shabu? Sounds painful.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If even a very tiny fraudulence is permitted, it will lead to permitting a very big fraudulence in the end. There is a proverb in Japan, "Senjou-no Tsutsumi-mo Ari-no Ikketsu-kara", which means even a big, big strong wall can collapse due to a very small hole which an ant dug. If this kind of fraudulence is permitted, it can lead to a very big problem of the whole industry. They must never ridicule consumers with such fraudulence !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@kaynide: Sterling was sued by his wife and NLB but hasn't been forced to sell it. It is just a civil case that Sterling is countersueing. and it is nothing to do with beef mislabeling. He is still owner.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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