This week, a new food safety scandal is rocking Japan. Mikasa Foods (三笠フーズ) had for 10 years imported pesticide-laced rice from China and Vietnam (supported by officials at MAFF) in order to make - - glue.
Mikasa Foods then promptly went ahead and re-sold the tainted rice to all kinds of food companies, including shochu and sembei makers. And made a killing by charging normal prices, as if the rice was fit for human consumption. For ten years...
First, it seemed limited to a few companies. Today, it emerges that they also sold the rice to hospitals in Osaka and Kyoto. I mean, who are these guys? Are they not paying attention to the fact that Japan reacts very strongly to food safety crime? Are they unable to read and write, and maybe not even able to feel any compassion for fellow human beings? And how did officials at the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) get involved in this? World Trade Organization rules stipulate that Japan should import rice, and ok, using it to make glue makes sense.
So, you import crap rice that is not fit for human consumption, and make glue for a living. How do you then go from that to sell it to food companies? And at what point do you and your partners start thinking it is ok to sell it to food companies? And then move onto hospitals? And nursing homes? At what point do you start to actually go ahead with such a plan? AND THINK YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH IT?
NHK World: Tainted rice may have used for hospital meals
Authorities say that inedible rice tainted with high levels of pesticide may have been used for meals in hospitals and nursing homes in western Japan.
The rice in question was purchased by Osaka-based Mikasa Foods from the government as industrial-use but the company is accused of selling it on as an edible foodstuff.
Officials say that about 690 kilograms of the rice from China was sold through third companies by Mikasa to Nisshin Healthcare Food Service, a distributor of hospital meals, between May and July.
The Tokyo-based company later distributed the rice to about 110 institutions in 6 prefectures, including Osaka and Kyoto.
Mikasa Foods admits the rice in question was inedible and says that it may contain residues of a pesticide called methamidophos five times above the legal limit.
The meal provider says that part of the rice has already been consumed.
Yomiuri: Mikasa 'hid tainted rice' from inspectors
Mikasa Foods, an Osaka-based rice-processing and sales firm suspected of selling tainted rice as edible rice, covered up its actions by hiding tainted rice from regular government inspections, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
"We moved tainted rice [from where it was usually kept] to a different warehouse every time government officials came for inspections," an employee of Mikasa's Kyushu plant in Chikuzenmachi, Fukuoka Prefecture, told The Yomiuri Shimbun.
"Another employee was assigned to mix tainted rice with clean rice," the employee added.
According to the employee, three warehouses are next to each other on the plant's compound. Warehouse No. 1 was used to store rice for processing, such as making shochu liquor, warehouse No. 2 was used to store edible rice to be shipped to restaurants, and warehouse No. 3 was used to store tainted rice. Each warehouse holds about 1,100 to 1,400 30-kilogram bags of rice.
The company's records show that quantities of the tainted rice were registered as having been shipped to industrial glue manufacturers. If government inspectors had realized that the rice was in warehouse No. 3, the subterfuge would have been discovered.
When the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry's Fukuoka District Agriculture Office conducted on-the-spot inspections once a month, plant workers moved some bags of tainted rice to warehouse No. 1, placed them deep inside the building and covered them with bags of clean rice to ensure they would not be detected.
Mainichi: Asahi Breweries begins recall of 650,000 bottles of shochu over tainted rice
Asahi Breweries, the latest company to fall foul of the Misawa Foods scandal, announced on Thursday that thousands of bottles of sweet potato shochu liquor are being recalled after contaminated rice was found to have been used in its manufacture.
Despite initial claims by a brewing company commissioned by Asahi Breweries that no contaminated rice was ever used in its products, it later emerged that some rice used to make nine varieties of sweet potato shochu liquor contained high levels of the insecticide acetamiprid. There have been no reports of any adverse health effects so far.
The recall covers some 650,000 bottles of shochu sold to restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores from June this year, and is expected to cost around 1.5 billion yen.
It would be really interesting to know which Japanese political party this guy has supported, or belongs to. I think Japan's media - or what about foreign correspondents covering Japan - should ask this question. Any takers?