Suntory Beverage & Food takes a number of steps to ensure that we are trusted by our customers.
Raw Material Safety
The safety of the raw materials we use in our food products, such as food additives and preservatives, has been confirmed in accordance with the Food Sanitation Act and other domestic laws and regulations. With regards to agricultural chemical residues, we have built an assurance system in line with the positive list system for agricultural chemical residues.
For our cans, glass bottles, PET bottles, paper cartons, and other containers, we assess possible risks at every stage—from the selection of materials to design and manufacture—and ensure their safety and conformance to the relevant laws.
We label allergens on our food products in accordance with the "Food Labeling Standards" established by the Consumer Affairs Agency.
To ensure we supply products that our customers can use safely, in addition to following administrative guidance, we continue our voluntary analysis of radioactive materials.
The water we use in our plants is routinely analysed and tested by each of our plants.
In addition to chemical analysis and microbiological testing to ensure safety, sensory testing using the five human senses is used to check for changes in the water that cannot be detected by analytical instruments.
While we use food additives and preservatives as necessary, we only use raw materials whose safety conforms with the Food Sanitation Act and other domestic laws and regulations.
We conform to the relevant domestic laws and regulations regarding the use of genetically modified crops, the use of processed food products that use these crops, and product labels. We do not handle products that require the label "contains genetically modified crops."
At Suntory, we have built an agricultural chemical residue quality assurance system to cater to the positive list system for agricultural chemical residues introduced in May 2006. The basic mechanisms for this quality assurance system are a combination of the following: establishing strict in-house standards, understanding circumstances surrounding agricultural chemicals, acquiring warranties from clients, and analysis. Further, for matters that cannot be determined through documentation alone, we carry out on-site visits as necessary. While all food products and agricultural chemicals are subject to regulations, by ensuring that the raw materials we purchase and use conform to agricultural chemical residue standards, we are able to guarantee the safety of the products we provide. We are also continuing with efforts to reinforce our quality assurance system for all raw materials we purchase and use, including highly processed raw materials. Specifically, we are working with the industry as a whole to further understand the circumstances surrounding the use of agricultural chemicals, expanding the range of chemicals we verify through analysis, and building our own traceability system.
[Related links (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website)]
The Positive List System for Agricultural Chemical Residues in Foods (JAPANESE)
Positive List System Q&A (JAPANESE)
At Suntory, we procure our tea leaves from tea farms and trading companies to whom we have long offered guidance and development support, and with whom we have built cooperative, trustworthy relationships. Further, in addition to managing upstream processes relating to agricultural chemical residues, such as by gauging levels of agricultural chemical usage, we have built a traceability system that begins at the tea farms and ends with our oolong tea drinks. In 2004, we established our own quality assurance center in Shanghai, where we can undertake simultaneous analysis of around 420 types of agricultural chemicals, including the organophosphorus insecticides methamidophos and triazophos, as well as fipronil and indoxacarb. Here we confirm the products’ compliance with Japan’s Food Sanitation Act before their export to Japan. We also work with trading companies to offer guidance to tea farms at the quality assurance center.
We analyze agricultural chemical residues and other substances prior to purchasing our raw materials. In addition to the actual chemicals used, we undertake analysis of agricultural chemicals in general use in that country or region, agricultural chemicals that are subject to inspection in Japan, and agricultural chemicals for which residue has been inspected and reported by the national and local governments in the past.
The inside of the cans (including steel cans) we use for our soft drinks and other beverages is coated in a layer of resin such as PET. This ensures that the contents of the can do not come into direct contact with the can, and that the aluminum does not dissolve into the contents of the can.
To ensure the safety of our products with regards to radioactive materials, we guarantee the safety of the water and raw materials we use in their manufacture. We confirm the safety of the water and raw materials we use by obtaining information from the national and local governments and raw material manufacturers, and through in-house and outsourced analysis. Further, the end products we deliver to our customers are regularly inspected at our factories across the country.
In mid-April 2011, the Quality Assurance Division’s Safety Science Institute, which is in charge of in-house analysis, created an inspection system through installation of germanium semiconductor detectors capable of precise, individual analysis of radioactive materials. Since then, the Institute has been working to strengthen its inspection system through installation of additional analytical devices. The Safety Science Institute also ensures conformance with the new standard values for radioactive materials in food (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) [PDF] enforced in April 2012.
To ensure we can continue providing products to our customers that they can use safely, we will engage in further efforts to confirm the safety of our products by following administrative guidance and continuing with voluntary efforts to analyze radioactive materials.
By guaranteeing the safety of the water and raw materials we use in the manufacture of our products, we guarantee the safety of our products themselves. In addition, the end products we deliver to our customers are regularly inspected at our factories across the country.
We continuously analyze radioactive materials in the water we use in our products. We take regular samples of the water we use in our products and undertake frequent analysis at each factory.
Among the raw materials we use in our products, for domestic agricultural produce harvested from 2011 onwards, we carefully select safe materials based on information obtained from the national and local governments, raw material manufacturers, and other organizations regarding levels of radioactive materials in the agricultural produce and in the relevant environments. We also confirm safety through in-house or outsourced inspections in specific regions.
For our in-house inspections, as in the photo, at Suntory Group we use germanium semiconductor detectors capable of precise measurements of radioactive cesium.
Current detection limits for cesium are 1 Bq/kg for Tennensui, tea, and water used in our products, and 10 Bq/kg for our other products and raw materials, etc.
These limits correspond to the new standard values for radioactive materials in food (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) [PDF] enforced in April 2012.