Store denies food items intentionally misrepresented, offers refund

More businesses admit misrepresenting menu items

Kyodo

Major department store chains Takashimaya Co. and Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co. separately said Tuesday that some of their restaurants and stores misrepresented items on their menus, becoming the latest in a string of companies to own up to food fraud.

Takashimaya said the misrepresentations involved 62 menu items at five of its department stores and a shopping center, including those in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi and Shinjuku districts, Yokohama, and the city of Okayama.

Mislabeled items included black tiger shrimp passed off as Japanese “kuruma” shrimp and “steak” that was actually processed meat with beef fat added.

Separately, Daimaru Matsuzakaya announced the same day that “osechi” traditional boxed food for New Year’s it sold last year in Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures actually contained black tiger shrimp labeled as kuruma shrimp.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Yutaka Masuyama, a Takashimaya executive, apologized “from the bottom of my heart” for misrepresenting the ingredients but denied it was intentional, claiming it was due to “lack of proper attention, and that’s what we need to remedy.”

Takashimaya will refund customers confirmed to have consumed the food.

The incident follows recent revelations of false menu descriptions across the country, involving Hankyu Hanshin Hotels Co., the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Osaka, which is under the umbrella of Hankyu Hanshin Holdings Inc., and the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel in Hokkaido.

Masuyama said the black tiger shrimp labeled as kuruma shrimp resulted from staff failing to change the package labels after the latter ingredient was replaced with the former in sold products.

“It slipped their mind,” said Masuyama. “The price tag was lowered, and there was no intention on our part to make extra money out of this.”

The company also has admitted to using processed meat without properly labeling it even though the staff actually knew it was, but Masuyama said they “didn’t know doing so was necessary.”

Later in the day, more businesses spilled the beans.

Tokyu Hotels Co. reported false labeling of shrimp and beef steak at restaurants and banquet halls at 20 of its hotels.

Hotel Keihan Co. said Hotel Keihan Universal Tower and two others in Osaka among its hotels in Japan failed to authentically describe steak made from processed meat with added beef fat.

Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, an aquarium, reported that its restaurant had sold processed meat with beef fat as steak.