A series of food scandals, many of which involved misbranded or mislabeled products, has shaken the confidence of Japanese consumers, according to a report in the Washington Post. Many Japanese have long believed that Japanese brands of food are superior, and even paid significantly higher prices for them. The scandals revealed everything from selling foreign foods under Japanese brand names to rebranding and selling food identified as unsafe. The Japanese reportedly no longer trust the information on food labels.
According to the article, consumers blame government regulators as well as businesses. Government labeling regulations generally favor business, and enforcement has been all but nonexistent. Falsifying labels, a felony in the United States, brings a maximum fine of $3꼲, which is waived if the company agrees to correct the problem under “administrative guidance” from the government. Whether FDA will screen imports of Japanese foods more carefully was not discussed in the article.