And... it all boils down to packaging and improper training, or so these companies would have us believe. And you know what? I believe them. Maybe. Probably not. Liars.
Earlier this week - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - the Takashimaya Co. (see photo above) and Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co. each came clean about how some of their restaurants and stores had claimed items on a menu were actually something else all together.
At Takashimaya, these fraudulent claims revolved around some 62 menu items at five department stores and a shopping center.
For example, at Takashimaya, menu items claiming to be the Japanese Kuruma prawn (also known as the Japanese tiger prawn) were instead actually black tiger shrimp.
Ah yes... be mighty and brave like the prawn, not weak and cowardly like the shrimp.
As well, items called steak were actually a concoction of processed meat that had some beef fat added to it for flavoring.
At Daimaru Matsuzakaya, in a separate come clean confession (confession is good for the sole), that products sold last New Year's Eve - its osechi traditional boxed food in both Aichi-ken and Fukuoka-ken also had black tiger shrimp labeled as being the more traditional kuruma prawn.
A prawn is also a shrimp. The kuruma prawn is also known as the kuruma shrimp.
At a news conference, Takashimaya executive Masuyama Yukata (surname first), who is neither a prawn or a shrimp, I think, publicly apologized for the misrepresentations.
He said, however, that it was not done on purpose, but was due to a "lack of proper attention, and that what we need to remedy."
He said that Takashimaya would provide refunds to any person who ate the food... as long as you can prove it.
... uh... like if we kept the receipt from a meal I ate at your restaurant a few weeks back? Who does that? That's the person the police need to be watching.
Takashimaya's Masuyama says that the problems occurred after his staff failed to change package labels after the company had decided to actually replace the kuruma prawn/shrimp with the less expensive black tiger shrimp.
He does add that there was a decrease in the menu items price, implying they were not trying to make money from any misrepresentation of ingredients.
"It slipped their (staff) mind," Masuyama offered. "The price tag was lowered, and there was no intention on our part to make extra money out of this."
The company also added that it did indeed use processed meat without properly labeling it even though the staff actually knew it was a different product, but Masuyama said the staff didn't change the labels because they "didn’t know doing so was necessary."
That's poor employee training on behalf of the Takashimaya company.
These two revelations come on the heels of other menu misrepresentations across Japan: the Hankyu Hanshin Hotels Co., the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Osaka (owned by Hankyu Hanshin Holdings Inc.), and the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel in Hokkaido.
And... later that day, since patrons around the world were already feeling crabby, other companies decided to come clean and admit to label misrepresentation.
Tokyu Hotels Co. says it falsely labeled shrimp and beef steak at 20 of its hotel restaurants and banquet halls.
Hotel Keihan Co. also says that the Hotel Keihan Universal Tower and two hotels in Osaka did not authentically describe steak made from processed meat with added beef fat.
And... the aquarium Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise says its restaurant had sold processed meat with beef fat added to its processed meat while still calling it steak.
Waitaminute! Now I'm not so sure if Takashimaya was being honest in its excuse about improper staff training being the cause of their misrepresentation!
THIS many food service institutions making the SAME mistake with the SAME products... shrimp and beef? It sounds like everyone conspired to to do this!
What are the odds that THIS MANY businesses would make the same fraudulent act with the same ingredients?
Somethings fishy? And it may not actually be fish!
Yes... everyone has apologized... sorry for giving you inferior goods... but so many companies were doing it?
Yes... Takashimaya did lower its price a bit... but everyone else?
I would also assume that there is a shortage of kuruma shrimp and real steak in Japan... which is why everyone is passing off processed meat and beef fat as steak, and why suddenly everyone is 'accidentally' on purpose using black tiger shrimp instead of the more traditional Japanese kuruma prawn/shrimp.
I would hope a proper police investigation is taking place.
Hmmm. I wonder.... since we are talking about fake ingredients... did Japan also created the imitation krab?
Okay... I looked... Japan did invent imitation krab... the Suhiyo Co., Ltd. produced it first in 1973, calling it Kanikama. It is made from processed seafood made of finely pulverized white fish flesh (surimi), and is shaped and cured to resemble the leg meat of snow crab or, you guessed it, the Japanese spider crab.
Hmmm... maybe you are all better off eating at KFC or McDonalds...
itadakimasu (a phrase akin to bon appétit),
PS: In the old days, bringing dishonor to one's clan (or business) meant you'd have to do the honorable thing and kill yourself. Oh that the race of Japanese men could grow so weak...