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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 6 - 12  > JT Foods ignored complaints about Chinese-made frozen food
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2008 February 6 - 12 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JT Foods ignored complaints about Chinese-made frozen food

February 6 & 7, 2008
It was revealed that JT Foods Co., Japan Tobacco Inc.’s subsidiary that imported the Chinese-made frozen meat dumplings that caused the recent food-poisoning cases in Japan, failed to conduct testing of imported processed frozen food for pesticide residues despite the fact that the company received complaints from consumers as early as April 2007.

Between April 2007 and January 2008, JT Foods received 11 cases of complaints about frozen processed foods such as meat dumplings and stuffed cabbage made by China’s Tianyang Food Processing Ltd., the same company that produced the tainted food.

On February 5, the Japanese Consumers’ Co-operative Union announced that Dichlorvos, an organophosphate pesticide, was found in meat dumplings that JT Foods imported.

Although the number of complaints lodged to JT Foods increased in December 2007, the company failed to analyze information in a consistent manner and deal with the problem until January 22 when consumers fell into serious health conditions after eating the food contaminated with Methamidophos, another type of organophosphate pesticide.

JT Foods has violated the Food Sanitation Law that requires companies involved in food trade to secure the safety of food, and must be held responsible as a food importer.

Japan Tobacco was founded in April 1985 as a result of the privatization of the Japan Monopoly Corporation and still remains a “quasi government enterprise.” Half (50.02 percent) of its shares are held by the finance ministry, and the company has three former Finance Ministry officials, including former Budget Bureau Director-General Wakui Yoji who is now the chairman of the board.

The food-poisoning cases also revealed that a number of Japanese food companies have outsourced food production to the Chinese food maker in order to cut costs. Leading Japanese trading houses have acted as go-betweens.

It is important to reduce Japan’s reliance on imported food products. Therefore, Japanese trading houses’ and food companies’ policy of increasing imports to take advantage of cheap materials and labor should also be called into question.
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