Consumers in Japan say that their faith in Snow Brand Foods (SBF) has been broken by the firm’s false-labelling scandal, which erupted this week, and some shops have started removing Snow Brand goods from their shelves.

70-year-old housewife Chiyoko Takada told Reuters: “I can’t believe it. They’re the company I always bought milk and cheese from, ever since I was a child. Snow Brand – that’s what you got… I won’t buy from them anymore.”

Three Holstein cows spray-painted with red and black statements condemning SBF and the farm ministry’s handling of BSE were found yesterday [Thursday] in a park in the western Japan city of Tokushima. The messages read: “Snow Brand is a fool” and “The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry is to blame”.

SBF, Japan’s sixth-ranked meat packer, admitted on Wednesday that it had fraudulently labelled Australian beef as Japanese in a bid to take advantage of a government beef buyback scheme introduced as a measure to counter a sales slowdown in domestic beef and remove un-inspected beef from the market following the outbreak of BSE last September.
The government is taking the fraud very seriously. Agriculture Minister Tsutomu Takebe told reporters yesterday that he plans to sue SBF: “They committed an unforgivable act. We will take strict measures.”