business news in context, analysis with attitude

Seiyu Ltd., the Japanese supermarket chain that recently took on Wal-Mart as a minority partner (with the ability to become the majority owner over a period of years), admitted last Friday that two of its stores deliberately mislabeled imported beef and pork products as being of domestic origin.

The company said that the problem was limited to the two stores, and to meat managers who acted alone. According to Reuters, Seiyu said it immediately reported the incidents to relevant government authorities and plans to offer full refunds to anyone who purchased the mislabeled meat.

This is just the latest of a series of incidents in Japan where major corporations have conceded the deliberate mislabeling of meat items, a major issue in that country, where concerns about food safety have caused meat purchases to decline precipitously.
KC's View:
Not to paint with too broad a brush here, but what the hell is going on over in Japan? What is it about the nation’s business ethics that allows people to mislabel products with the belief that they are somehow exempt from the law? (Not that the business ethics here in the US are any great shakes, based on recent events and prosecutions…)

We’ll assume that Seiyu has its act together and has determined conclusively that this is limited to two stores and two meat managers. Because if another report about expanded problems at Seiyu comes out, the company and its management are going to have a credibility problem.

Ironically, Seiyu was going to start reimbursing customers who had bought the mislabeled meat…but when the requests for reimbursement started to outweigh the amount of beef that had been mislabeled, the company suspended the program.

Proving that even in Japan, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.