Five former executives of Japanese meat packer Snow Brand Foods have received suspended two-year prison sentences for fraudulently obtaining government subsidies during the country’s BSE crisis.

The five – Shigeru Hatakeyama, Masao Hirose, Shizuo Sugiyama, Tetsuaki Sugawara and Yusuke Tasaki – were accused of obtaining ¥195m (US$1.6m) in subsidies by falsely labelling foreign beef as domestic.

After the scandal was revealed, Snow Brand Foods’ sales fell, eventually forcing the company out of business, reported Agence France-Presse.

Meanwhile, parent company Snow Brand Milk Products has reported a first-half net loss of ¥45.36bn, compared with a loss of ¥13.66bn in the same period last year. The company is struggling to regain consumer confidence following the meat labelling scandal and a cover up of a tainted milk scandal two years ago that made over 10,000 people ill.

Group revenues were down 13.9% to ¥535.20bn, and the company’s operating loss was ¥11.63bn.