Just when the Japanese food industry appeared to be settling down after a period dogged with food scares and consumer fears, the industry was stung on Friday by another quality-control scandal when the government accused a company of mislabelling imported beef to cash in on a mad-cow beef-buyback programme.
In true 'Snow Brand-esque' style, meat processing firm Nippon Shokuhin tried to pass off 122 tons of foreign beef tendons - worth about 136 million yen (€1.15m) - under the scam, according to Agriculture Ministry official Toshiro Kawashima.
Snow Brand Foods, a subsidiary of Snow Brand Milk Products, drew strong criticism earlier this year after revelations that it had mislabelled food and swindled the government out of money in a state-run buyback scheme to deal with mad cow disease. The case toppled the company.
Nippon Shokuhin was allegedly trying to take advantage of the same lucrative government programme to purchase local meat potentially contaminated with mad cow disease in order to get the tainted food off the market.
Kawashima said the Agriculture Ministry was still investigating Nippon Shokuhin. The Japanese government has spent billions of yen buying and disposing of local beef potentially contaminated with the bovine brain-wasting illness, which is linked to the fatal human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.