Consumer Affairs Agency, Government Of Japan
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White Paper on Consumer Affairs 2014 [Summary]

Part 1 Today’s consumer issues and consumers’ behavior/attitude

Chapter 1 【Feature1】Food-related consumer issues
- Restoring confidence in food and ensuring food safety -

Section 1 Promotion of proper food labeling

Food-related consumer issues occur repeatedly; in FY 2013, food labeling problems mainly at restaurants draw major public attention

As the social environment, family structure and life style change, consumers are paying attention to food from broader perspectives, and they are becoming more eager to demand safe food.

Even in the past, Japan occasionally experienced food-related consumer issues.

Figure 1-1-2 Major food-related consumer issues since 2000

Misrepresentation of food ingredients in menus was discovered at one place after another among hotels and restaurants

In 2013, misrepresentation of food ingredients in menus was discovered at one place after another among major hotel chains, department stores and restaurants.

Related ministries and agencies collaborated in taking measures, such as requesting actions to prevent recurrence, strengthening the structure for supervision and guidance (enacted Act to partially amend the Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations, etc.), and improving the predictability of businesses (release of “Principles of Food Labeling in Menus and Dishes under the Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations”).

Figure 1-1-3 Past developments of food labeling problems

Many consumers want food labeling problems to be prevented from recurring

When asked about their thoughts about food labeling problems, the largest part (40.7%) of consumers said “Food fraud is a problem, but preventing recurrence of similar problems is more important than punishing the businesses involved.”

Figure 1-1-6 Regarding food labeling problems, 40.7% of consumers consider preventing recurrence as important

Figure 1-1-4 Consumer consultations on food labeling problems surged in October to November

Moving toward food labeling easy to understand, with the Food Labeling Act established

Japan’s food labeling system is specified by three separate Acts: the Food Sanitation Act, the Act on Standardization and Proper Quality Labeling of Agricultural and Forest Products (JAS Act), and the Health Promotion Act.

This has made the system difficult to understand for both consumers and businesses. To resolve this problem, the provisions for food labeling in these Acts were integrated into a single Act, the Food Labeling Act, which was established in June 2013 to create a unified, comprehensive system for food labeling. The new Act is slated to enter into effect by June 2015.

※Enlarged display

Figure 1-1-8 Food labeling system

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