• Kyodo

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An expert panel on consumer affairs said in a report released Tuesday that fines need to be imposed on restaurants, hotels and department stores that falsely label food items, following a food mislabeling scandal in the country last year.

Based on the report by the Consumer Commission of the Cabinet Office, an independent third-party panel, the Consumer Affairs Agency is expected to submit a bill to amend the law against unjustifiable premiums and misleading representations during an extraordinary Diet session this fall.

The commission, which had been studying whether to introduce a penalty system following a request from the government last December, said in the report that imposing fines for false labeling would be an effective way to protect consumers and that such a scheme is “greatly needed.”

The panel suggested that if businesses that falsely labeled items reimburse consumers, penalties should be reduced.

A number of restaurants, hotels and department stores were found late last year to have sold food items made with ingredients other than those described in menus or on labels.