Illegal cutlet sale scandal widens to include more supermarkets, retailers


An Aichi Prefecture waste disposal company accused of on-selling meat cutlets that it was supposed to throw away has been linked to the illegal sale of thousands more food packages.

As the cutlet scandal widened to involve at least three prefectures, Aichi police late Thursday raided Daiko on suspicion of violating the industrial disposal law.

On Wednesday Ichibanya Co., which operates Curry House Coco Ichibanya restaurants, said that it had asked Daiko to dump 40,000 of its Coco Ichibanya-brand frozen cutlets because one might contain a piece of plastic up to 8 mm long.

However, it emerged Daiko had instead offloaded thousands of beef cutlets to supermarkets in the prefecture via noodle manufacturing firm Minori Fuzu, which had been asked to find buyers for the product.

Gifu Prefectural Government said Friday it had now also found Coco Ichibanya chicken cutlets in a refrigerator at Minori Fuzu’s premises, in the city of Hashima, as well as cutlets at a butcher shop.

It came as Aichi and Nagoya city officials said at least 8,000 cutlets have been sold in 22 supermarkets and retailers in the prefecture — far more than the initial figure provided Thursday of 5,405 pieces involving two supermarkets.

According to Gifu Prefecture, a package of five chicken cutlets was found at Minori Fuzu, as well as two more Coco Ichibanya-brand packages at a lunchbox store that did business with the noodle-maker.

The expiration dates on the packages ranged from July 2014 to September 2015.

Gifu Prefecture said some of the 40,000 cutlets may have also been sold to a butcher shop in the city of Aisai.

The butcher is said to have purchased 2,300 pieces from Daiko, of which 750 were then sold to customers.

Minori Fuzu confirmed it had bought 800 boxes of Ichibanya-brand frozen cutlets, each containing 30 pieces, for around ¥1,000 each.

“I was instructed to pack the cutlets into different boxes before reselling them,” the company’s 78-year-old manager said. “Each had Ichibanya’s name on it so I trusted (Daiko).”

The manager said the company had purchased frozen cutlets twice from Daiko since 2014, including this latest deal. He said he had not been told the food was due to be disposed.

Daiko had said it was paying Ichibanya for the food, which made the transaction appear legal, he said.

According to Aichi Prefecture and other sources, documents suggest that Daiko had disposed of all of the 40,000 frozen cutlets as fertilizer.

Aichi and Nagoya city officials have confirmed that they were investigating how the widespread distribution happened.

Daiko officials have told Gifu Prefecture that it had only sold disposed cutlets once.

The incident came to light after a Coco Ichibanya worker found its cutlets being sold at a supermarket in the city of Tsushima, despite the food being normally available only at Ichibanya restaurants.

  • Firas Kraïem

    “On Wednesday Ichibanya Co., which operates Curry House Coco Ichibanya restaurants, said that it had asked Daiko to dump 40,000 of its Coco Ichibanya-brand frozen cutlets because one might contain a piece of plastic up to 8 mm long.”

    Am I the only one who finds this to be the most shocking part of the whole kerfuffle? I’m sure there are many people, even in Japan, who would gladly have them and take the 1:40,000 chance of having to spit off a probably innocuous piece of plastic.

    • 151E

      Well, we don’t know whether said plastic was a soft strip or a hard shard. And, as I’m sure you well know, Japanese consumers are notoriously particular; they will often reject perfectly good products over minor defects in packaging. So I’m not so surprised that Ichibanya would take the hit to protect its image.

  • GBR48

    Like the piling fraud, this was always going to be the tip of the iceberg. It’s not an uncommon fraud, globally, repackaging food intended for disposal and moving it back into the supply chain. Consumers pay the price as people get sick or even die as a result of contaminated food products.

    Ideally prison for everyone involved and the company should be wound up. Although there will probably just be a bit of bowing, an elderly executive will retire, and everyone will carry on as normal. All of which pretty much guarantees it will reoccur.

    Every time this happens it damages the reputation that previous generations worked hard to create. The reputation that brings Chinese shoppers to Japan every year. As these cases accumulate, a tipping point may be reached that will have serious consequences for the image and economy of Japan.

    Whatever your problems, committing fraud and placing innocent people in danger is not a solution.