Food manufacturers caught up in a scandal triggered by Japanese company Kyowa Perfumery & Chemical Co., were affected by a complex industry distribution structure and the custom of employing professional food tasters when developing new products, observers say, reports the Daily Yomiuri.
According to the Japanese newspaper, the food scandal involving Kyowa, which is suspected of using five unauthorised substances in its flavouring agents, is causing problems in a variety of fields. On Friday, an Ibaraki prefectural public health centre filed a complaint against the Tokyo-based company for violating the Food Sanitation Law.
Food manufacturers, who generally purchase raw materials from intermediary companies that reprocess flavouring agents, usually ensure that their products do not contain unauthorised ingredients and insist upon quality certificates and analysis reports for the substances issued by ingredient suppliers.
According to a spokesman for the frozen foods giant Nichirei Corp., the company was not aware of the banned ingredients in its products until it asked the intermediary manufacturers.
The Daily Yomiuri reports that flavouring agent makers usually employ professional tasters with so-called berometer - a pun on barometer (bero means tongue in Japanese) - skills, who play an important role in developing flavouring substances unique to the companies.
Although a small company, Kyowa Perfumery had an employee, the report continues, with an excellent "berometer" who contributed to the company's success, especially its milk-flavouring agents.
Flavouring agent manufacturers usually need to spend two years and at least 100 million yen on animal experiments to win approval from the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry for using a new ingredient, according to the Japan Flavour & Fragrance Manufacturer's Association.