The farm ministry will set up an advisory panel to consider how to overcome consumer distrust of the meat industry and the ministry itself in the wake of a series of mislabeling frauds, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tsutomu Takebe said Friday.
Takebe said the panel, to consist of university professors, journalists and representatives from consumer groups, will report to him.
Consumer trust in the industry and the farm ministry has been minced by a series of beef mislabeling frauds committed by major meat-processing firms, including Nippon Shokuhin Co., a subsidiary of Nippon Meat Packers Inc., and an arm of Snow Brand Milk Products Co.
The panel will be charged with finding ways to fix defects in the government beef-buyback program that has been abused by the companies, as well as addressing problems in the beef distribution system.
The panel will hold its first meeting Sept. 30, and will hold discussions twice a month on ways to fix the subsidy program and distribution regime. It hopes to produce an interim report of policy recommendations by the end of this year, the ministry said.
Takebe’s announcement comes a week after the ministry filed charges against the regional office chiefs of the Nippon Ham unit on suspicion of defrauding the state of subsidies by having employees mislabel imported beef as domestic.
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