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The internal affairs ministry has found problems with the farm ministry’s food labeling oversight system and urged it Friday to take corrective steps over a spate of mislabeling cases since 2007.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry looked at inquiries carried out by nine of the farm ministry’s local offices into suspected mislabeling cases in 2006 and 2007.

It said in a report that in 99 percent of the 2,466 inquiries, companies were only required to cooperate on a voluntary basis, and that in one case, an inquiry was dropped because of lack of cooperation.

Also, in 244 out of the 508 cases the internal affairs ministry looked at in detail, inquiries started at least a week after the local offices were tipped off, with one inquiry beginning as late as 135 days afterward. Such delays could lead to loss of evidence as foods perish quickly.

The internal affairs ministry, which began the survey in 2008, advised the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry to clarify circumstances in which its local offices should raid suspected businesses and also address the problem of late launches of probes.

In the dropped inquiry revealed in the internal affairs ministry report, the Hokkaido District Agriculture Office strongly suspected that farm produce labeled as from Gunma Prefecture was actually from China but terminated the inquiry as it received no cooperation from the businesses involved.

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