Issues surrounding food safety and security
These are Nichirei’s initiatives regarding the main substances known to be hazardous in terms of food hygiene.
In addition to these initiatives and to ensure that customers can safely eat the products we manufacture and sell, Nichirei has devised several safety management systems to ensure that our products present no risks to health.
1. Harmful Microorganisms
We believe that is up to us to suppress the bacteria and viruses that threaten the safety of food. The offending organisms, too small to be seen by the naked eye, may be categorized according to the symptoms of infection they cause. They include food poisoning bacteria, such as salmonella and staphylococcus aureus; viruses such as the norovirus; and the infectious E. coli and V. cholerae bacteria that adversely affect the intestines, respectively causing food poisoning and cholera. The organisms can enter the body through food ingredients or be transmitted by human hosts, and can multiply in food.
The Nichirei Group is well aware that priority must be placed on controlling the harmful microorganisms. Thus, in addition to following the three rules concerning food hygiene?not to introduce harmful microorganisms into food, not to allow harmful microorganisms to multiply in food, and to kill the microorganisms if found in food?we have added a fourth rule, namely, not to bring in harmful microorganisms. By always following these four rules, we are determined to prevent our foods from being contaminated by harmful microorganisms.
To verify the safety of our products, we conduct the necessary testing, which includes production environment evaluations, as well as the microbiological testing of interim and final products. Moreover, we only offer products that have met our standards and passed all tests.
2. Foods containing radioactive substances
The 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant has caused increased concern about the radioactive contamination of foods. As a result, on April 1, 2012, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare established guidelines for radioactive substances in foods and began implementing them.
The Nichirei Group monitors both our products and the raw ingredients we handle for radioactive substances using a NaI (Tl) scintillation spectrometer. We only market products that have met those guideline requirements.
3. Residual Agrochemicals
Agrochemicals play a major part in boosting agricultural productivity, and are considered indispensable. Agrochemicals include herbicides, which eliminate weeds that interfere with the growth of crops; sanitizers, which protect crops from disease; and insecticides that protect crops from insect pests. Since many agrochemicals can adversely impact human health, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has established standards for residual agrochemicals.
The Nichirei Group, not having forgotten the lessons learned from the problems caused by residual agrochemicals on spinach, has implemented the following initiatives with respect to frozen vegetables. The agrochemicals used in the cultivation of the produce are tracked, and the agrochemical residue is analyzed before harvesting. This enables us to buy only agricultural produce that has met established standards. Further, we also analyze the residual agrochemicals in the final product, and only offer products which have met the strict standards. In addition to managing the residual agrochemicals in our frozen vegetables, Nichirei Foods packaging bears trace codes that reveal where a product originated and when it was harvested.
4. Residual Veterinary Drugs
Veterinary drugs play a large part in increasing livestock and fisheries industry productivity. Being live organisms, both livestock and marine products from time to time may suffer illness and be treated with veterinary drugs. If those drugs remain in the animals, they can contaminate the foods of which they become a part. Thus, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has determined standards for residual veterinary drugs.
In connection with livestock and fisheries products, the Nichirei Group tracks veterinary drugs used in the rearing of livestock and the breeding of fisheries products. It also conducts analyses of the residual veterinary drugs prior to shipping products. It is thus able to offer livestock and fishery products that have met established standards.
5. Food Additives
Some food additives can be used in food, and the relevant standards have been determined. Japanese laws concerning food labeling require that food additives be displayed on packaging by substance name, although the use of abbreviated names, category names, usage terminology, and collective names are also permitted for ease of customer understanding.
The Nichirei Group allows the use of food additives it has determined to be necessary for ensuring food safety. We ensure that they meet the relevant food component standards and also work toward meeting the usage standards.
The Good for Lunches! line sold by Nichirei Foods does not use food coloring, preservatives, or chemical seasonings in the manufacturing process.
6. Food Allergies
There are 27 foods listed as allergy triggers in Japan. Of these, the Consumer Affairs Agency requires that seven (shrimp, crab, wheat, buckwheat, eggs, milk, peanuts) be displayed on packaging due to the frequency and seriousness of the allergic reactions they cause.
The Nichirei Group both checks the raw ingredients it uses and assesses the likelihood of contamination during manufacture in order to accurately identify the food allergens on packaging, in compliance with the nation’s food labeling laws. We have made every effort to itemize the food allergens contained in frozen foods for home use that are handled by Nichirei Foods.
Awareness of Food Safety
The Cabinet Office Food Safety Commission each year conducts a study concerning the degree of awareness about food safety among those who monitor food safety.
The results of the most recent survey, conducted in August 2014, show that over 50% of respondents indicated concern regarding food safety.