To my knowledge there has been a dearth of condemnations from your readers on the scandal of the mislabeling of food (why?) but I was heartened to read your Nov. 15 editorial “Yet another shameful food scandal.”
You are correct in stating that there is at present no clear legal guidelines (and thus no law) to protect consumers from false claims in the descriptions of food on offer in menus, be they in restaurants or anywhere else. The simple question which should be, and indeed should have been, asked is why? In the United Kingdom there are very stringent laws in place on a very wide range of issues to protect consumers from such acts and perpetrators are invariably prosecuted. Thus there is very little consumer deception.
However, I must take issue with you on your final paragraph, where you state (inter alia) that it is not the safety of the food that is at stake but rather the trust of the consumers in those establishments that serve them the food.
That is self-evident but you failed to accuse these acts as “crimes,” even though you used the word “fraud”. The definition of fraud in the Oxford English Dictionary is (1) a criminal deception, (2) a dishonest artifice or trick or (3) a person or thing that is not what it claims to be. I do agree that, in Japanese law at present, these acts cannot be classed as criminal but surely there is a moral crime being committed and the perpetrators should be soundly punished by their customers in the only effective way available at present, by a boycott of their establishments.
But I fear that will not happen due to the passivity of these consumers. Thus, Japanese lawmakers have a clear duty to take immediate action to protect the citizenry by putting onto the statute books appropriate laws. But, as this country is rife with deception in its many guises, I am not holding my breath. Poor Japan — how can we trust her?
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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