Japanese Fast Food Chain Mos Burger Is In Trouble 

This hasn’t been a good past few months for one of my favourite fast food chains, Mos Burger.

With more than just tasty burgers, Mos Burger (Mountain Ocean Sun Burger) has cultivated its image of being a healthy alternative to McDonald’s. Advertisements tout domestic produce and freshness, going as far as listing where the veggies are grown and posting photos of farmers on Facebook.

The restaurant certainly has its fans.

Myself included.

However, recently, things do not look good for Mos.

Last August, 28 customers at Mos Burger restaurants across Japan got food poisoning. According to Kyodo News, 12 of those customers had the O-121 strain of E. coli bacteria.

Mos Burger acknowledged that it was “highly likely” that its food was the cause.

The cases were reported at 19 locations in Chiba, Gunma, Kanagawa, Nagano, Saitama, Tokyo, Tochigi and Yamanashi. It was so bad, apparently, at a Nagano location that public health officials shut the restaurant down for three days and one sickened customer was hospitalised.

“We’ll step up our sterilisation of vegetables, which are believed to be a cause of the health problem,” a Mos Burger spokesperson told Kyodo.

After the food poisoning news broke last month, stock prices suddenly dropped 7.6 per cent. Business Journal reports that sales were already down 5.2 per cent year on year for the same period. There were also 5.9 per cent fewer customers. This was before the food poisoning incidents.

There was also an article in Gendai Business pointing out how this is only the second time since Mos Burger’s founding in 1972 that the fast food chain has suffered a sales slump. Twitter user Mulboyne has a good summary of the article.

A new threat, Mulboyne adds, is the rise of newly arrived American chains such as Shake Shack and Carl’s Junior, which are still small scale in Japan but have room to grow.

If that weren’t enough, earlier this week, the Japanese media reported how Mos Burger in South Korea was advertising how it didn’t use any Japanese ingredients. This was apparently before the recent food poisoning cases and, while not specifically stated, this appears to be related to lingering Fukushima concerns.

In South Korea, enough people are still worried about Japanese food safety for the fast food chain to print such a message on the food tray’s paper placemat. “Please eat without worry! Mos Burger Korea does not use Japanese ingredients.”

In Japan many were angered by the message, believing that, the recent food poisoning problem aside, Japanese ingredients are safe and pass inspection. They viewed the message as an affront, with some calling the message discriminatory and anti-Japanese.

Among those Japanese TV interviewed in South Korea about the issue, one said that North Korean ingredients were safer than Japanese ones.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has referred to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in speeches advocating for his country to change its energy policy, while the 2016 Korean film Pandora depicted a Fukushima-like nuclear disaster. This, along with vocal anti-nuclear protesters in South Korea, might explain why there are still concerns.

After the outcry in Japan, complete with people online swearing to never visit the chain again, Mos Burger South Korea replaced the controversial paper placement with an innocuous message about ordering takeaway online. Mos Burger Japan also issued an apology.

A few years back, McDonald’s Japan faced food scandals and a tremendous backlash. That fast food giant has since turned things around. It’s now up to Mos Burger to do likewise.


Comments

    Their burgers are pretty fantastic, if I got E. coli and lived through it, it wouldn't put me off from going back there to eat more mos burgers.

      Damm straight! Was in jp all of last month... and was chowing down on the stuff as filler. No problems here at all! :D

    They do look like pretty tasty burgers. As far as Fukushima and health is concerned, radiation panic is an understandable thing but there's nothing to worry about. Radiation levels outside the plant compound are about the equivalent of eating a banana an hour.

    I don't get the hype for these guys. A friend who got us to go there when we were over a few years back, since someone he knew wouldn't stop raving about them. Didn't seem like anything particularly special, I'd probably rather go Grill'd or something (though can't go past generic take away burger as eternal king).

      Think it's just tourist hype. Mos burger is very very average.

        Agreed. I was falling all over myself to try it on my first trip to Japan after having somebody rave to me about it.

        Final verdict was meh. I mean, it's not bad, there's nothing especially wrong with it (other than this food poisoning thing, I guess). But nor is it particularly good. I've got half a dozen much better burger places within a 10 minute drive of my house here, so I haven't bothered with Mos Burger again when in Japan.

        Taste is subjective after all.. me and my mates cant get enough of that stuff and grab it as our fast food choice when in jp....

        Must be the mos sauce that goes on the burger!

      Just like in n out burger in USA. Some of my mates rave about it. I was like 'meh', WAY better burgers from the corner stores.

    huh as someone who gives to HK just about every month, I didn't see a peep about mos burger advertising their ingredients didn't come from Japan (or where it came from for that matter). they were far more busy promoting a new rice burger haha

    that said I can totally see it being edged out by competition, I mean it happened to Wendy's in HK so...

    I tried one last time I was in Brisbane, it was pretty good

    Doesn't really surprise me - I got food poisoning from one in Brisbane. Worst 48 hours of my life. It was really horrible. Burger was ok - really nothing to write home about.

    Is the problem due to the traditional use of human poop still being used by some farmers as part of their fertiliser? There was a massive to-do about that when I was in Korea. Particularly from imported kimchi and raw vegetables from China that was improperly cleaned.

      Could be and you do mention Chinese sourced produce. Human faeces is still widely used in Chinese agriculture, there is apparently a crack down on the practise but woth so many small and poor farms, they can't stamp it all out.

      E.Coli outbreaks are usually from contaminated leafy vegetables which are pre-washed and pre-cut, and it can happen anywhere, not just China - the USA had a massive outbreak of it this year linked to contaminated Romaine lettuce grown in Arizona, where it looks like contaminated canal water was the source.

    Since I haven't been to Japan maybe someone can answer this for me.
    Do the Japanese store burgers taste any better than the ones in Brisbane?

    I have had MOS burger a couple of times in BNE and while enjoyable, I didn't think they were something to rave about?

    I know some things are different overseas though. When I went to KFC in Canada, their chips are shoestring like Maccas and come in a box akin to a Red Rooster QTR Chicken and Chips. KFC in Canada was actually not very good...

      KFC in the US/Canada is significantly worse than Australia, just as a general rule. McDonalds, meanwhile, is almost identical in my experience.

      I haven't tried MOS in Brisbane but have had it a fair few times in Japan and I quite like it for takeout burgers. Their teriyaki and MOS burgers are particularly good. I imagine if they're not importing the sauces and instead having them made under license or something in Australia, that could be a significant source of difference.

      KFC is considered poor people food in the US, it is renowned for its low price and equally poor quality.

      KFC in japan was bad compared with NZ/Aus, flavourless and small. GIVE ME MA SALT INTAKE DAMMIT

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