• Kyodo

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Two former presidents of an apple processing firm were arrested Tuesday for allegedly labeling apple juice concentrate made mainly from Chinese apples as coming from Aomori.

Takao Sasaki, 61, and Junichi Osanai, 71, are suspected of defrauding a Tokyo food company out of some ¥50 million from February 2006 to January 2007 by selling its product made with imported juice concentrate under false pretenses.

Their former company, Aomoriken Kako, is based in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture.

They are also suspected of violating the unfair competition prevention law, which prohibits dealers from misrepresenting information on goods or services in a manner that is likely to mislead the public as to the place of origin, quality, contents, manufacturing process, use or quantity.

“I ordered (that the product be) falsely labeled,” Sasaki told the media earlier. “I must take responsibility as the chief executive of this company.”

He said he ordered the falsification to save on costs. Sasaki resigned as president after the scandal broke.

According to police, the mislabeled apple juice was in dressings and vinegar products.

Aomoriken Kako’s apple-processing operations have been taken over by Ono Foods Co., another Aomori-based apple processor.

At a news conference in Aomori, Ono Foods President Yoshihito Ono offered an apology and pledged to increase consumer trust in his company’s apple products.

There have been numerous scandals in recent years centered on mislabeling of food ingredients, involving a wide range of products from “wagyu” premium beef to expired milk. In most cases, food producers falsified labels for cost-cutting reasons.

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