Consumer Affairs Agency asks Japan’s hotel industry to take steps on false menus scandal

JIJI, Kyodo

The Consumer Affairs Agency instructed the hotel industry Wednesday to take corrective measures due to recent revelations of food misrepresentations on restaurant menus.

The agency handed the written requests to representatives of the Japan Hotel Association and two other hotel industry groups. The groups received explanations on the law for preventing misleading representations about goods and services, and were shown past instances of menu descriptions found to violate regulations.

False menu descriptions are an act of betrayal and industry efforts to restore consumer trust must be promoted, Hisa Anan, secretary-general of the agency, said at a news conference.

Companies implicated in the scandal include Prince Hotels Inc., Hankyu Hanshin Hotels Co., the Ritz-Carlton Osaka and department store operator Takashimaya Co.

On Wednesday, several other companies joined them.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. admitted to false food labeling, saying 14 restaurants in its group stores across the country served items with different ingredients from those listed on menus.

The misrepresentations involved 52 menu items at eight of its department stores and one shopping mall, and included the labeling of Vannamei shrimp as more expensive Shiba shrimp and processed beef as steak, Isetan Mitsukoshi said. The origins of other items were misrepresented, with pork raised in Iwate Prefecture sold as being from Miyazaki Prefecture and Chinese chestnuts in a cake labeled as European produce.

Isetan Mitsukoshi said it will pay refunds to customers who ordered those items.

Sogo & Seibu Co. meanwhile confessed to finding misrepresentations among 13 menu items at seven restaurants in its group stores nationwide. At a Sogo Tokushima restaurant in Tokushima Prefecture, for example, the menu claimed it was using Awa beef, a local delicacy, while it was actually serving up beef from Kagoshima Prefecture.

Odakyu Department Store Co. also acknowledged the same day that it, too, had been falsely marketing dishes, including a product claiming to use prawns that was in fact being made with tiger shrimp.

  • Al_Martinez

    As this scandal grows (as I said it would), does anyone still think that Fukushima products aren’t being sold throughout the country through mislabelling?