TOKYO, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- At least one Japanese waste disposal firm has been secretly reselling expired frozen foods, and brokers distributed the spoiled products to China and North Korea, where "expiration dates don't matter," according to sources.
Daiko, a waste disposal company in Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture, resold expired products from retailers and restaurants to distributor Minori Foods, investigators found in early January.
Investigations have revealed more firms have been involved in the food scandal – exposing a practice that links popular businesses like curry chain CoCo Ichibanya to activities that are in violation of the country's food sanitation and waste disposal laws, Japan Today reported.
The Asahi Shimbun reported the food was resold through at least one Japanese supermarket.
Some of the contaminated products, however, were either slated for resale in China and North Korea, or were already sent as exports.
According to multiple sources at waste disposal firms who spoke to the Asahi on the condition of anonymity, brokers would request spoiled foods for export, sometimes twice a month.
"They would say, 'we plan to send the food to North Korea or China. There, expiration dates don't matter,'" said one source.
The demand for expired foods from illicit traders is a problem, according to one unnamed waste disposal food executive.
"Once you dip your hand in a dirty business, you can't stop until you're caught in the act," the man told Japan press.
News of the scandal broke after expired frozen pork cutlets originating from Ichibanya, the restaurant chain, were found at a supermarket in the Tokai region.
Investigators also found more than 100 food items past expiration at a Minori Foods warehouse – including grilled chicken, fish fillets, simmered vegetables, fish cakes and fried chicken.
Other expired products originated from the convenience store chain 7-Eleven.