Lab comes up with technology to ascertain where food was grown

Kyodo News

A company in Yokohama has developed a technology that can tell whether bamboo shoots were produced in Japan or China, paving the way for the detection of mislabeled food.

Japan Isotope Analysis Laboratory Inc. claims its technology, which analyzes the mass of oxygen and hydrogen in bamboo shoots, can distinguish where it was produced with an accuracy of more than 90 percent. It can also determine where eel, beef and rush were produced using similar means.

The lab said it gets more than 300 analysis requests a month from police and cooperatives.

“The nation does not possess such technology,” said an official at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s food inspection organization. “Since the accuracy is high, it is an effective system” for detecting mislabeling.

The mass of oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen in the shoots varies according to where they were grown, the lab said.

The lab gathered more than 420 shoots in China, and dirt from the area where they were harvested, and compared them with samples from Japan.

“There are so many cases of mislabeling that have yet to surface,” said Akira Haniwa, an executive at the laboratory.