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    信用失墜

    The recent revelation that shops near the Ise Shrine (one of the holiest places in Japan) have been fraudulently altering the production and use-by dates for their sweets is getting a lot of attention:

    At a press conference, [Ofuku-mochi president Masaki] Kohashi bowed very low and said, “I’d like to apologize deeply for having so stirred up the public.” However, he withdrew after less than five minutes, pleading poor health.

    Left to carry on after him at the press conference was the manager of the flagship shop Yoshihiko Morita (50), who explained, “We weren’t knowledgeable about much of the content of the JAS [Japan Agricultural Standards], with the result that [improper labeling] continued. I became aware that this was a legal infraction half a year ago, but I didn’t advise anyone of that.”

    Unsold products that had been pulled from shelves were “stored in the factory warehouse, then discarded as ordinary waste after the contents had been removed from the packaging,” he emphasized.

    Ofuku-mochi is not to be confused with Akafuku, a competitor that admitted not only to manipulating product date stamps but also to recycling products for sale after their sell-by date. (That’s why the Ofuku-mochi store manager went out of his way to mention that old stock was thrown away.) The Ise Shrine is a major travel destination, and the confectioners in question are venerable purveyors of the souvenirs you’re supposed to bring back for the homefolks whenever you go on a trip:

    One housewife of sixty, who’d come as a tourist to Ise from her home in Kita Ward, Kobe, said, “And here I’d thought it would be nice to buy Ofuku-mochi sweets instead of Akafuku as my souvenirs. They’re such an institution–you kind of feel betrayed.”

    4 Responses to “信用失墜”

    1. Zak says:

      One thing I miss in all the coverage about these apparently ubiquitous false food expiration date labeling scandals is why, if in spite of all this mis-labeling, no one is getting sick?

      It appears the labeling guidelines are overly strict, and the food manufacturers know they are meaningless. Sure they should follow the law, but the law should have some grounding in reality.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Me, I wonder how people can eat anything made with red bean jam and not get sick. Ew.

      As far as the sell-by dates go, it seems to me that there’s solid logic behind setting them conservatively. Perhaps MAFF has gone overboard–it wouldn’t be the first time–but the rules don’t seem unfairly burdensome to me. Plenty of businesses have had to learn better planning and inventory control over the last few decades.

    3. Nori says:

      As one of Japanese nationals, I think it’s important for me to keep the expiration date.

      But, personally, I will buy these souvenirs at cut-rate prices because there’s not harmful to people’s health. 😉

      But the problems are the concealment activity and its process.

      Sorry, if it’s not fine comment XD

      I think you’re very good at Japanese, aren’t you?

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Your comment is on topic, Nori. I think there are two separate issues. Assuming it’s legal, if purveyors of foodstuffs want to have a bin of things that are just past the expiration date (like the day-old bread counter at the bakery), I think common sense says that’s reasonable.

      But what makes it okay is that the consumer is informed about the decreased amount of time left to use what he buys. I use things after the sell-by date all the time–now that I live alone again, a carton of grapefruit juice lasts for weeks. If companies are going to hide how long ago a given package of goodies (which word I apply to things containing red bean jam only out of courtesy), then they deserve to be punished.

      As for how good my Japanese is, thanks for the compliment. All I know is I can read the newspaper and flirt with guys effectively. Whether that counts as “very good,” I can’t judge. : )

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