OSAKA (Kyodo) Despite growing fears of a global pandemic of swine influenza, a major international food fair kicked off Thursday as scheduled in Osaka, a city traditionally known as the nation’s food capital.

At the start of the 11-day Shoku Hakurankai Osaka (Food Exhibition Osaka), held at the Intex Osaka event hall in Suminoe Ward, Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto urged the public to remain calmly about the flu epidemic, which has apparently yet to reach Japan.

“We in the public sector will adequately inform you” in the event of a possible outbreak of swine flu in Japan, Hashimoto said. “In the meantime, we would like you to come and enjoy the food here.”

Although infection through the food chain is not a key factor in the ongoing spread of swine flu, which is caused by human-to-human infection, Hashimoto apparently brought up the topic because many in the public still believe they should avoid eating pork.

According to the organizer, the food fair is Japan’s largest and last year drew 660,000 visitors. Because the event is held once in four years, some people refer to it as a “food Olympics.”

Representing Mexican food, plates of tacos are being served for only ¥100 each. Pieces of chicken kebabs from Turkey and piroshki from Russia are also on offer at the same price, the organizer said.

Also present at the food fair is the drum-beating mannequin Kuidaore Taro, a city mascot from a downtown Osaka restaurant that shut down last year.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.