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Task force: Mislabeled beef sold in Okinawa

Date Posted: 2002-02-07

A police task force in Hyogo Prefecture has seized evidence proving that Snow Brand Food Co. has been selling large amounts of imported beef in Okinawa disguised as low-priced meat from Kumamoto Prefecture. According to a police statement issued on Feb. 3, the evidence shows that Snow Brand had sold over 3.4 tons of mislabeled Australian beef in Okinawa by the end of last year. Since the price of beef originating in other prefectures is higher than that imported from overseas and produced in Okinawa, authorities believe that the company deliberately misrepresented the less expensive Australian meat as being economically priced but good quality Kumamoto beef with the intention of increasing their market share in Okinawa.

Prefectural officials and staff from the Koza Department of Health interviewed employees at Okinawa’s largest supermarket, San-A, the primary purveyor of the mislabeled meat. San-A president Tetsusei Uechi released a statement saying that the chain was considering taking legal action against Snow Brand for the alleged product misrepresentation. Snow Brand Food Co. admitted on Jan. 28 that its employees had intentionally mislabeled beef produced in Hokkaido as being from Kumamoto Prefecture with the express intention of deceiving customers worried about the spread of mad cow disease. Some cattle on Japan’s northernmost island had previously been reported to be infected with the disease.

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