OSAKA — Duskin Co., which runs the Mister Donut chain in Japan, on Tuesday reported to the Osaka Prefectural Government on its use of an unauthorized antioxidant for producing dumplings, as was disclosed Monday.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry had been tipped off about the substance’s use but had not been informed by the company despite corporate executives’ knowledge of it. It thus ordered Duskin to report to the local government.
Duskin, which runs a cleaning equipment rental firm as its main business, is based in Suita, Osaka Prefecture.
Senior officials of Duskin and Mister Donut admitted to officials during their trip to the prefectural office Tuesday that there were aspects of the case, including a failure to report to authorities and obey laws, that the firms need to reflect upon as food-handlers.
In response, Teruo Danno of the prefectural food sanitation division said he pointed out that the two companies have a flawed sense of crisis management.
According to Duskin executives, a small amount of the antioxidant t-butyl hydroquinone was mixed in vegetable fat used to make the outer layer of meat dumplings.
The company admitted Monday that in 2000 it sold more than 13 million meat dumplings treated with the agent, which the company claims has no effect on health as no traces of it were found in its products.
Duskin also said it paid 60 million yen to a business client that notified the firm about the banned additive in late November 2000 and demanded money.
Duskin said the client blackmailed the firm in April, threatening to notify the health ministry unless more money was paid, a demand Duskin rejected. But the firm also said it did not file a police report.
The company, however, said it is now discussing with its lawyers whether to sue the client, a construction company in Osaka Prefecture that was not further identified.
While t-butyl hydroquinone is banned in Japan for use as an antioxidant in food, such use is legal in China, Taiwan and the United States.
Duskin said it outsourced production of the dumplings to a company in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, that commissioned production to a factory in China.
Two other factories in China produced meat dumplings for Mister Donut in Japan under a contract with another firm consigned by Duskin, but they used different production procedures and their goods were free of the agent, Duskin claimed.
The dumplings in question were sold through 1,100 Mister Donut shops in Japan, and Duskin said it has discontinued use of the chemical.
Excessive intake is believed to cause weight loss and other health problems.
Duskin started the doughnut franchise business in Japan in 1970 through a business tieup with Mister Donut of America. It currently has around 1,300 shops in Japan and nearly 1,000 shops abroad.
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