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Street vendors of lunch boxes will have to obtain licenses for food sanitation management, and the metropolitan government will oblige the vendors to use refrigerants and thermometers.

13 Comments

A spokesman for the Tokyo government's food safety committee, which is considering regulations on street vendors of bento lunch boxes. (Yomiuri Shimbun)

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Actually I think they're just seeing $$$ signs at the idea of all the revenue they can make by requiring every Yakult lady and bento truck to buy a license. It is unnecessary and just makes the lives of small-scale traders trying to make an honest buck even more difficult.

Yeah, all those $$$$ signs. Get real.

What the government is concerned about - and absolutely rightfully so - is two things:

the proliferation of people selling bentos in parking lots and alleyways all over the cities. Cheap bentos. Like 300 yen bentos. Sitting out in the sun for an hour and a half in a cooler box while some tired housewife tries to flog them off on passersby. And who knows if the ingredients are standard or if the food has been prepared under sanitary conditions. Surely you can see that the government has to be seen to be taking steps to ensure food sold for public consumption is under some sort of control?

the legitimate businesses surrounding the cheap bento sellers cannot possibly be happy that someone is camped out on their doorstep or cluttering up the sidewalk in front of their establishment. Worse for the restaurants in the area these unregulated bento sellers will take customers. It seems unfair that an unlicensed, unregulated, untaxed person can start selling box lunches on my doorstep and steal away potential customers.
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Frungy, point taken. And don't worry; some of those health professions are friends and relatives.

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I've never read a report of anyone getting seriously ill from a bento in Japan.

There is a first time for everything. Here are just a few examples of food poisoning cases in Japan. These are mostly bento companies, but bentos sold by vendors can certainly be a source of concern. .

http://www.nih.go.jp/niid/ja/group-a-streptococcus-m/group-a-streptococcus-iasrd/3884-pr4034.html

143 people affected.

http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/INET/OSHIRASE/2011/11/20lbg100.htm

133 people affected.

http://www.pref.yamanashi.jp/eisei-ykm/syokuchuudoku_sidasibenntou.html

1,445 people affected.

http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/INET/BOSHU/2013/11/DATA/22nbq201.pdf#search='%E5%B9%B3%E6%88%9025%E5%B9%B4+%E8%B7%AF%E4%B8%8A%E5%BC%81%E5%BD%93%E3%81%AB%E3%82%88%E3%82%8B%E9%A3%9F%E4%B8%AD%E6%AF%92'

In the period between 2008 and 2012 there were 36 cases of food poisoning from bentos which affected 1,421 people. In all of Japan in the same period, there were 407 cases which affected 26,494 people.

I see nothing wrong with requiring safety standards for people selling food.

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lostrune2Nov. 26, 2013 - 04:17PM JST Ya must not have noticed all those food-stands in every corner of cities like New York, Chicago, LA, etc. When ya see doctors from hospitals across the street lining up there, ya know the food's fine.

No disrespect intended to the food vendors in other countries, but your assumption that "Doctors eat there = Healthy" is way off base. I've worked with plenty of doctors and their decision making process for where to eat lunch is as follows:

Look at watch, calculate how many minutes the nurse can stall the next patient (because they're always overbooked and everyone's cold is always an emergency) - On average docs at major hospitals technically have an hour lunch but in reality have about 15 minutes.

Find the nearest, cheapest place. Why cheap? Because a lot of doctors working at public hospitals are there because they've just graduated med school and haven't set up a private practice yet. They're paying off massive student loans and are flat broke.

Order whatever is fastest to prepare and fastest to eat.

That's how young doctors decide what to eat... and old doctors do the same out of habit. Food hygiene isn't really a factor because they have access to antibiotics at cost (or in many hospitals for free and it is written off as "shrinkage"). Doctors are great at giving health advice... and lousy at following it. Never assume that because you've seen a doctor doing it that it is necessarily safe, sanitary or sane.

Again, I'm not knocking your local food, I've eaten more suspicious kebabs in my life than is probably good for me, I'm just giving a friendly warning about the advisability of ever saying, "But my doctor did it, it must be healthy!".

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One of the nice things about Japan is that, unlike America, you can set up a little food business cheaply. Loads of opportunities for the little guy.

Ya must not have noticed all those food-stands in every corner of cities like New York, Chicago, LA, etc. When ya see doctors from hospitals across the street lining up there, ya know the food's fine.

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Seems most of the food poisoning incidents here have been from top hotels, school meal providers and bulk bento factories. And of course all the fraudulent labelling (aka regrettable mislabelling).

When you see something made in front of you, the cook has a very good reason to make it properly...

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I agree. One of the nice things about Japan is that, unlike America, you can set up a little food business cheaply. Loads of opportunities for the little guy. By taxing them (which is what a license is) the government gets a little more cash to spend on themselves and their cronies, and we can all get used to only large chains serving our food for us. Yummy.

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Frungers,

Right. Greed. That'll do it every time.

In the end, after Abe has pushed TPP through by fair means or foul or a bit of both, all we'll have to eat will be genetically modified (but unlabeled) burgers, you won't be able to cook at home without a license and regular kitchen experts by the Sanitation Police. Regional food will only exist as a curiosity in history books.

And anybody "leaking" that the 100% beef burgers are really made out of worms will be shot by a government drone, or incarcerated in solitary confinement for an undefined period of time under the Abe "secrets act."

The lunch box thing is just the start.

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BertieWoosterNov. 25, 2013 - 05:06PM JST This is because of the hundreds of thousands who have died from lunch boxes that haven't been kept in "refrigerants" and without thermometers?

Spot on again Bertie. I've never read a report of anyone getting seriously ill from a bento in Japan. Generally the food quality and safety here is really high.

Or does the idea come from the “minds” of aged civil servants in the "Food Safety Committee," who haven't got anything better to do with their time?

Actually I think they're just seeing $$$ signs at the idea of all the revenue they can make by requiring every Yakult lady and bento truck to buy a license. It is unnecessary and just makes the lives of small-scale traders trying to make an honest buck even more difficult.

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This is because of the hundreds of thousands who have died from lunch boxes that haven't been kept in "refrigerants" and without thermometers?

Or does the idea come from the “minds” of aged civil servants in the "Food Safety Committee," who haven't got anything better to do with their time?

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I hope they crack on all those fake kebab vans and stalls. They all selling horrible food and counterfeit kebab in every festival and parks in Kanto. They are quite so disguting, guys are waiting for an easy victim while playing their smartphones! You order a kebab and soon after that they drop their smartphone and start cutting the meat and touching the bread. OMG! Same fingers used to play the smartphone!

Needless to say that kebab here have poor quality, they use coleslaw instead of lettuce. I hope all those fake kebab to close thanks to the new rules. I am even surprised no one died yet while eating a kebab here.

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What do they mean by 'street vendors of lunch boxes' - market stalls? Kiosks? Shops at street level that operate through an open counter? vans that park up? vending machines?

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How about they also check the labels on the food to see if they are correct.

Food safety and hygiene leaves a lot to be desired here that is for sure.

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