農薬混入事件 「食の安全」揺るがす内部犯行

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 27, 2014
Sense of food safety badly shaken by in-company poisoning of food
農薬混入事件 「食の安全」揺るがす内部犯行(1月27日付・読売社説)

The latest food poisoning case has shaken Japan’s sense of food safety and increased people’s distrust of food makers. Investigators must expedite their efforts to elucidate the facts in this case.

A 49-year-old contract worker at the plant where frozen food was laced with the agricultural chemical malathion has been arrested by the Gunma prefectural police on suspicion of obstructing business. The suspect worked at the Gunma plant of Aqli Foods Corp., a subsidiary of leading food maker Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc.

The man is suspected of lacing frozen food produced at the plant with malathion on four occasions in October.

About 2,800 people across the country have complained of feeling ill after eating pizza and other frozen food produced at the plant.

During questioning, the man reportedly told police, “I don’t remember,” and his motive remains unclear.

We hope the Gunma prefectural police will probe the matter thoroughly to find out how the food was laced with the chemical and clarify the context of the inside job.

The presidents of Maruha Nichiro Holdings and Aqli Foods have announced they will resign at the end of March to take responsibility for the latest incident.

The companies failed to respond promptly, taking 1½ months to launch a self-imposed recall of products after receiving a complaint in November of an odd odor from pizza manufactured at the plant. As both companies have lost their credibility with consumers, their resignation is natural.

85% of frozen food recalled

The recall rate of frozen food produced since October at the Gunma plant remains at about 85 percent. Maruha Nichiro must continue calling on consumers to return the products in question.

A mindset of “food defense” to prevent food from being contaminated intentionally with foreign substances has prevailed in the food industry since pesticide-laced gyoza produced at a Chinese plant was imported into Japan in 2008.

At the Gunma plant, workers are required to wear uniforms without pockets, while monitors to keep an eye on other workers have been placed on production lines.

Yet there is no inspection of workers’ belongings when they enter the plant. Some workers said chemicals could be brought into the plant if they were hidden inside the lower sleeve of the uniform.

The present state of quality control, including the system for food safety control, of the entire Maruha group needs to be examined for possible defects, as does the system for educating employees.

The latest incident has also sounded an alarm bell for the entire food industry.

Although it can be difficult for companies to take the view that human nature is inherently bad, it is essential to prevent workers with ill intentions from doing bad things. Companies must improve their in-house systems, including boosting monitoring of employees to make such illicit acts difficult.

Maruha Nichiro has revised downward its earnings forecast for the business term ending this March, primarily due to suspended production at the Gunma plant and its sluggish sales.

Companies in the food industry must understand it is difficult for a company that has lost consumers’ trust to recover it.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 27, 2014)
(2014年1月27日01時32分 読売新聞)

srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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