Chinese shops pull Japanese food items from shelves over safety fears

BEIJING —

A number of Chinese stores have almost completely pulled Japanese food products from their shelves after a consumer rights show aired by China’s state-run broadcaster CCTV alleged that some items are from areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Kyodo News confirmed that stores in Beijing and Shanghai, at least, as well as some online shops, have stopped selling Japanese food products. Chinese media reports say that the withdrawals have begun in more than 10 major cities, also including Tianjin, Guangzhou and Nanjing.

Some outlets put notices for customers at their emptied shelves explaining that they are carrying out safety checks on Japanese food items after being informed by the government of the broadcast.

CCTV reported Wednesday that Japanese food items from Fukushima or its surrounding areas, the import of which Chinese authorities have banned in the wake of the nuclear disaster, have actually been sold in China.

Among Chinese consumers, who have gained more purchasing power in recent years, imports from Japan and other foreign countries are popular, while local authorities continue to face serious challenges in ensuring the safety of domestically produced goods.

The scare broke out despite Sino-Japanese relations being much better than several years ago, when they were at the lowest ebb in decades over a territorial row and wartime issues.

While the removals could expand rapidly in other parts of China, Shanghai food supervisory authorities said they have not so far found any problematic Japanese items.

In addition to Chinese retailers, Japanese brand Muji specifically came under the spotlight and was shamed during the two-hour annual program, composed of undercover reports and entertainment performances.

But Ryohin Keikaku Co, the operator of the Japanese brand, selling various household goods and food items, denied any wrongdoing in a press statement released a day after the CCTV program.

The Japanese company said the two food products taken up by the state broadcaster were not produced in prefectures covered by China’s import prohibition.

The firm said furthermore all food products sold in China go through quarantine inspections before entering the country and are accompanied by necessary certificates of producers.

It said the CCTV program is based on a “misunderstanding” partly because the Japanese law requires that the name of a company selling a product and its headquarters be printed on the package.

However, the address of the head office is not necessarily the origin of a product. The Muji operator is headquartered in Tokyo, one of the 10 Japanese prefectures on which China still imposes a food import ban.

Japan has requested China many times to lift or relax those import restrictions, saying that products from those prefectures are also safe enough and bought by Japanese consumers.

The annual CCTV program, which coincides with World Consumer Rights Day, has often criticized foreign companies. One of its segments on Wednesday targeted U.S. sports brand Nike Inc., accusing it of misleading advertising on some of its basketball shoes.

© KYODO

  • 16

    bones

    This is so funny! China of all places with their never ending scandals and questionable safety practices,worried about radiation??!

  • 14

    jansob1

    Yes, worry about food that's been checked and doublechecked against the highest standards in the world, all the while eating cardboard dumplings cooked in sewer oil, washed down with melamine milk.

  • 10

    trinklets2

    Comedy at its best!!

  • 4

    Tony Alexander

    That's okay. McDonalds of Japan should follow suit by banning chicken nuggets from being produced in Chinese factories. The nuclear contamination scare has reached hysteria levels, and it's all the API's fault.

  • 0

    toshiko

    China is taking off competitors. Don't worry Japan. USA people love to eat Chinese styled food from Japan that indicate where in Japan they come from.

  • -2

    Yubaru

    That's okay. McDonalds of Japan should follow suit by banning chicken nuggets from being produced in Chinese factories

    Where you been, over two years ago Mac did stop. Anyway wouldn't matter, Japan is now getting a taste of how Japan felt with all the food tampering problems in the past with China.

  • 7

    buffalo

    I wonder if the helicopter carrier tour has anything to do with this.

  • 4

    PTownsend

    I wonder if the helicopter carrier tour has anything to do with this.

    I have to believe that's part of the dynamic, as is RExxon Tillerson's recent NE Asia visit, plus other factors like having an unstable and belligerent narcissist in the White House who's guided by a war-wanting whacko like Bannon - and who knows else.

  • 2

    MichaelBukakis

    This has nothing to do with food and everything to do with the helicopter carrier being deployed into the South China Sea Japan needs the Chinese market badly, Meiji will be screaming in a few weeks

  • 5

    Franz Pichler

    Hilarious, China... of all places... the ma d of the plastic rice and the gutter frying oil lol

  • 6

    gokai_wo_maneku

    And still record numbers of Chinese come right to Japan every year, last year 5 million I think.

    @PTownsend: "Rexxon Tillerson". I like it!

  • 6

    Disillusioned

    It's obvious China will go to any lengths to smear Japan. China is Japan's largest export market and this could have disastrous effects on Japan's economy.

  • 0

    Sukumar Devaguptapu

    So did the Chinese also watch the anime Kimi no na -- eyes-closed ?

  • 8

    goldorak

    Hard to have any credibility on the subject when you're the world's biggest producer of counterfeit and pirated products (including drugs/medicines).

  • 6

    m6bob

    The Chinese authorities are attempting to smear the tip-top reputation of the Japanese. The world already know of the PRC melamine-tainted baby milk scandals, prawns injected with substances to make them heavier, so as to command a better price, recycled cooking oil that were reprocessed for resale etc. All of these PRC invention/innovation are 'world-renowned'. If not for the strict Chinese news censorship, many more of such disgusting food-related news would have been revealed to the unsuspecting world. There is no better confirmation of these facts than the thousands of PRC tourist in Japan buying up excellent-quality, safe & reputable Japanese products like food, pharmaceuticals and beauty products, sometimes emptying the shops before they are restocked for the next busloads of eager PRC tourist. I've seen this with my own eyes while in Tokyo.

  • 3

    socrateos

    China is Japan's largest export market and this could have disastrous effects on Japan's economy...

    Not really. Japanese export dependency is about 14-15% of GDP (the second smallest among G20). Japanese export to China is less than 3% of GDP. Losing 3% of GDP is a big loss but not "disastrous." Japan can live without China if necessary.

  • -2

    Dan Lewis

    So is there any truth to the claims of irradiated products? A lot of people are dumping on China (and I can understand why) but suddenly everyone is protective when China claims the same thing that many Japanese have said about products from Fukushima for the last 6 years.

  • 7

    OssanAmerica

    China is doing this to South Korea over THAAD. And they're doing this to Japan over the JS Izumo traversing the South China Sea. Always mixing economics with politics, everything is a weapon.

  • -2

    Robert Dykes

    "worry about food that's been checked and doublechecked against the highest standards in the world," Wait, you mean Japan? You are joking right? Japan has some of the highest levels of chemicals and pesticides in the world on its produce, higher than even the USA. And no one checks or enforces nutrition info or ingredients on food in Japan.

  • 5

    Tony W.

    Surely radiation is easily detectable, and if the Chinese authorities are only acting on "fears" then they're not doing their job and are acting for political rather than public health reasons.

  • -3

    MikeH

    @Dan Lewis ... excellent comment! Finally, somebody had the common sense to state the reality! People rush to blame China for anything and everything without actually analyzing the reality. Japanese food scandal and mislabeling has been a issue which people around here turn a blind eye to. There are many Asian countries ( not only China ) who have banned Japanese food for the past few years!

  • -8

    Fred Wallace

    Japan can live without China if necessary

    No, no it really can not!!

  • 1

    GW

    The Chinese monster we have all helped create is getting more & more belligerent, we may have to put it down, could get real ugly!!

  • 5

    samwatters

    Ha! Ha! Thousands of Chinese come to Japan and food is one of the main reasons!

  • 5

    Kobe White Bar Owner

    Propaganda

  • 3

    zichi

    The nation’s exports of agricultural, forestry and fishery products as well as foods in 2015 rose 21.8 percent from a year earlier to ¥745.2 billion, hitting a record high for the third straight year

    Some countries banned imports from Fukushima, Tochigi and Ibaraki but its not all product. One year ago the EU eased their restrictions. At least 14 countries, including Australia and Thailand, have abolished restrictions on Japanese food imports.

  • 4

    bones

    @ Ryan Sykes I will take my chances with Japan, Monsanto has the USA in a chokehold in terms of GMO GM and cancer causing glysophate!!

  • 1

    Silvafan

    It is a perfect storm! China wants to hurt Japan where it hurts the most, and the smear campaign is always good for local Chinese businesses and nationalism. Everytime China wants to help one of their local industries, a new issue suddenly arises to slow down marketshare growth in domestic markets by international companies.

    On the flipside, Japan does need to be called out on its shady labeling practices, and the practice of mixing contaminated items like rice in with safe items to evenly distribute the problem, so no one can take the blame and everyone suffers in the process.

    It is just funny that China is the one calling them out so loudly!

  • 9

    Graham DeShazo

    Even if these products were irradiated they'd still be safer than anything produced in China.

  • 4

    Lino Bernie Bautista

    Ha! Ha! The country that pride itself as the number producer of fake products and absolutely dangerous food items (melamine tainted milk) now is concerned about safety. Actually is not about food safety, it's a ploy to continually feed bad feelings and hatred toward Japan. The Commy government always wants their people to hate Japan so nobody questions their authority and abuses.

  • -2

    Jandworld

    If the safety image goes there will come up walls all around these islands

  • 3

    Sepp Faessler

    I guess they got or should get even more familiar with the Chinese art of cunning – the 36 stratagems. Wisdom and cunning are one and the same or similar in China. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-Six_Stratagems

  • 4

    KnowBetter

    I knew this was coming months ago when China started copying Australia's strict food importation bans on people entering China. The irony of China making claims that people can NOT bring food items into China because they are trying to protect their delicate farming and agriculture. It's SOOOOOOO obvious that China is simply trying to stop it's citizens from going to places like Japan to buy safe food and make people spend money within China.

    I had all my food thrown out on my last business trip over there earlier this month because of that stupid new game they've started. I really had to be careful what I ate while I was there and still got sick. Three days with gut wrenching runs. I lost just over two kilos because of it.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    While Japan is abhorrent among 1st world countries when it comes to mislabelling and downplaying any potential dangers when it comes to its products (and crying about it) while being very strict about imports when the shoe's on the other foot, no one tops China when it comes to the dangers and threats if and of their foodstuffs.

  • 0

    Ron Barnes

    well was it checked for radiation before leaving Japan that is the only thing that could cause a problem if its higher than allowable for domestic use . Would you eat radiated food

  • 0

    hidflect1

    It's not like a quick wave of the Geiger counter would be any help. After all, Fung Shui isn't detectable by modern technology so how could anyone trust science at all...?

  • 0

    chisineko

    The source of food like the source of money can be hidden by a multitude of shadow companies.

  • 5

    Triring

    Well good luck for PRC where their rice is heavily laced with toxins like Cadmium and Mercury.

  • 0

    IloveCoffee

    How times have changed.

  • -1

    md2009

    "The Muji operator is headquartered in Tokyo, one of the 10 Japanese prefectures on which China still imposes a food import ban." Interesting that Tokyo is one of those banned. But more to the point, it is a fact that Japanese firms are finding ways to channel raw materials from Fukushima which find their way into products labelled in other Prefectures and the Government turns a blind eye. The Japanese Government is always trying to probe thst Fukushima produce is safe. But while the credibility of the Japanese food industry is suspect, one has to believe this is primarily driven by politics.

  • 1

    Just a user

    Japan can live without China if necessary

    No, no it really can not!!

    Yes it can, everyone can live without China, just takes some guts and people with backbone, collectively.

  • 3

    pacint

    Japan can do easier without China than the USA, imho.

    Walmart, etc will have empty shelfs without China.

  • 1

    Pukey2

    Yes it can, everyone can live without China, just takes some guts and people with backbone, collectively.

    If you don't mind paying higher prices, yes.

    But back to Fukushima - I'd rather buy fruit and vegetables from, say, Kagoshima, than Fukushima.

  • 1

    AlexBec

    Lol. Someone should tell China that when it comes to food, Japan has the best quality in the world. Don't worry because you're Chinese people we'll come in person all the way to Japan to buy thousands of products!

  • -2

    kurisupisu

    Many other countries have banned Japanese food products due to radioactive contamination, not only China.....

  • 1

    Just a user

    Yes it can, everyone can live without China, just takes some guts and people with backbone, collectively.

    If you don't mind paying higher prices, yes.

    Gladly

  • 0

    Tere Calantas

    Japan should do the same thing. It's been more than a year since I've read about Chinese garlic and the chemicals used in processing them for export. Since then, I've stopped using them but supermarkets continue to sell Chinese garlic. There has been no statement from the Japan Food Authority that I know of. That does mean Chinese garlic are safe, or that the authorities have simply not investigated?

  • 2

    dcog9065

    I wonder what Chinese consumers think of all this? Surely they're not going to be happy about going back to Chinese domestic produce?

  • 0

    Zenpun

    When I was in Ginza, fruits vendor told me Chinese tourists made his day because they bought his fruits a lot. Not all fruits he was selling were Japanese grown.

    Japan needs China rare earth for manufacturing electronic goods. Japanese consumers do not like much Chinese produces or products. China buy more from Japan. Chinese consumers and tourists loves Japanese technology and high end goods.

    Therefore Japan needs China more than other way around because Japan lacks the natural resources and market power.

  • 0

    Cliffy

    I would worry about Chinese manufactured foods more. Fake things, industrial strength chemicals, sewage.....

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