Chef declines ‘role model’ medal

Kyodo

In light of the food mislabeling scandal at Hankyu Hanshin Hotels Co., the head chef of the company’s Chinese food division declined a Medal of Honor from the government he was soon to receive, company sources said.

The sources quoted Seiji Oishi, 63, as saying he declined the Medal with Yellow Ribbon “because I disturbed the public.”

The Medals of Honor conferred in the fall, including the Yellow Ribbon, were awarded Sunday. The sources said Oishi was to receive the medal, which, according to the Cabinet Office, is “awarded to individuals who, through their diligence and perseverance, became public role models.” Oishi notified the Cabinet Office of his intention two days after the firm announced Oct. 22 that its hotels had served food different from what was boasted on their menus.

One item, Vannamei shrimp, was falsely touted as more upmarket Shiba shrimp.

At a news conference Oct. 28, at which President Hiroshi Desaki expressed his intention to step down, Oishi explained, “Our understanding was that in Chinese cooking Shiba shrimp was a general term referring to small shrimp types.”

It is unclear if the top chef had played any role in the mislabelings. The hotelier has so far only blamed lower-ranking employees.