Two seafood dealers, one of them a subsidiary of Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc., sold grilled eels labeled as coming from Aichi Prefecture even though they had been farmed in China, the government said Wednesday.
The two firms put false labels on their products to get rid of Chinese eel inventories that had built up amid the recent scare about Chinese food imports, according to industry observers. Japanese eels are priced at two to three times that of Chinese eels.
Uohide, an Osaka-based fishery product sales firm, set up a dummy company in Aichi Prefecture, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said. Using its name as the issuer of certificates of origin, the company made false labels in March to April, claiming the eels were farmed in Isshiki, an Aichi town known for its eels.
Knowing the label was false, Shinko Gyorui Ltd., Maruha’s Kobe-based wholesaling unit, sold the products to other wholesalers from March to June, the ministry said.