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Police on Tuesday raided several Kyowa Perfumery & Chemical Co. locations, including its headquarters in Tokyo and a factory in Ibaraki Prefecture, for allegedly producing and shipping banned flavoring agents.

Kyowa Perfumery distributed the substances to more than 175 food companies in 44 prefectures, sparking a nationwide recall of foods containing the chemicals.

Police have also been questioning company executives on a voluntary basis. Company President Akio Hirase, 55, has admitted he overlooked the company’s use of the banned agents despite finding out in summer 2000 that doing so was illegal.

The flavoring agents were made at Kyowa’s factory in Juo, Ibaraki Prefecture, using banned substances, including acetaldehyde, propionaldehyde and castor oil, since 1992 when it received a license to produce the flavoring agents and other products, according to Ibaraki prefectural health authorities.

The prefecture filed a criminal complaint June 7 against the company for allegedly using the unauthorized substances.

The prefecture has posted details of the products using the additives on its Web site at www.pref.ibaraki.jp.

False oyster claims

SENDAI (Kyodo) Some firms in Miyagi Prefecture have been selling oysters imported from South Korea as local products, the prefectural government announced Tuesday.

Vice Gov. Shinichiro Matsuki told reporters that the latest fraud was discovered in oysters sold to be eaten raw.

The announcement follows an earlier disclosure by the prefectural government that some oyster-processing companies in the prefecture had been discovered putting South Korean oysters, which should be cooked, in packages with stickers that indicated they were produced locally.

The prefecture began probing 64 oyster-processing and distributing companies in the prefecture shortly after local fisheries cooperatives alleged to authorities in March that companies were mixing South Korean imports with locally produced oysters.

So far, 14 companies have owned up to the wrongdoing, Miyagi prefectural officials said, adding the probe will continue and the names of companies will be released in August.

But the officials noted they cannot determine how many mislabeled oysters had been sold under the scheme.

According to the officials, some companies claimed they had to make up for limited local oyster production.

Miyagi is one of Japan’s major oyster-producing areas, along with Hiroshima and Mie prefectures.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Ministry and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said they are also conducting investigations into the deception and hope to wrap up their probes before the oyster season starts in the fall.

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