Seven & i Group is working on a variety of measures to emphasize safety and reliability at all stages from raw materials procurement through to sales.
Seven-Eleven Japan uses an average of 40 different food materials (including seasonings) per daily food product item, which includes rice balls and delicatessen items. To manage these individual products and accurately identify which factories produce them and what materials are used in which areas, Seven-Eleven Japan manages information from all its approximately 180 factories using a database system and links to the POS(point-of-sale) data at its stores to precisely manage the production history of its products, from the production region of the materials used to the stores where the products are sold. This allows us to immediately respond to any problems that may occur with raw materials. We also check for the presence of allergic substances and additives in our products to ensure that they are sold with the utmost care.
In addition, Seven-Eleven Japan is also able to precisely track the volume of food materials, packaging, and containers used at every factory, which helps it reduce waste by limiting excess production, for instance. Moreover, the company voluntarily conducts DNA testing on rice to prevent the admixture of other varieties as well as testing for radioactive substances.
Seven-Eleven Japan’s Raw Material Production Record Management Framework
Various leafy vegetables are used in 7-Eleven’s original daily foods (rice balls, sandwiches, stuffed bread, salads, delicatessen items, noodles, and so on). We began introducing cold chains (low-temperature distribution networks) in 2005 for low temperature transportation and processing in order to maintain high levels of freshness of produce from harvesting in the field to delivery to stores. Harvested vegetables are consistently maintained at low temperature in delivery vehicles, at sorting centers and processing factories, and until placement on store shelves. In addition, the active use of domestic produce in regions close to where it was harvested reduces energy use in transportation.
Cold chains (low-temperature logistics networks)
Ito-Yokado sells products under its private brand Traceable Fresh Foods with Producers' Faces, where it achieves an accurate understanding of production sites, production methods, and distribution channels and communicate these to customers. For these products, its procurement officers check with producers at the production sites to ensure that they are using appropriate cultivation and stock-raising management. Before the products are sold, various tests are conducted, including agricultural chemical residue tests, as well as soil, feed, and water quality tests, and third-party confirmation is obtained. Furthermore, radioactive substances are also inspected under stringent standards that are stricter than the statutory standards. Customers can confirm producer and inspection-results information for Fresh Foods with Traceability products on the Ito-Yokado website using a PC or smartphone. As of March 3, 2022, 232 items are handled under the Fresh Foods with Traceability brand, covering fresh foods including vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, fish, and rice.
Producer Information Disclosure Methods (Example from Ito-Yokado)
York-Benimaru has established a section called “The Secrets Behind the Delicious Taste, and the Safety and Security” on its website, providing information on the production site, characteristics, production process, producers, and other aspects of the fresh food that the company has carefully selected.
Seven-Eleven Japan aims for fresh, homemade taste for fresh foods such as boxed lunches, and when using food additives, uses the minimum amount and types necessary. Further, we have set voluntary standards for food additives and make every effort to minimize the use of food additives that are of deep concern to our customers. In addition, with regard to labeling on use of additives, we conform to the Consumer Affairs Agency’s “additive free and not-used guidelines” and promote labeling that does not mislead customers.
It is said that excessive trans-fatty acids increase bad cholesterol in the blood and reduce good cholesterol, heightening the risk of coronary heart disease among other things. In Japan, where intake is low compared to other countries such as Europe and the United States, there is currently no obligation to display trans-fatty acids and no upper limits have been set. Seven-Eleven, however, has been voluntarily making improvements since 2005 to reduce the total amount of trans-fatty acids. In addition, from 2007 we have improved frying oil in order to reduce trans-fatty acids produced in the process of processing fats and oils.
Reduction of Trans Fatty Acids
(Example) Amount per 100 g of Honokana Amami Strawberry Jam Margarine
Seven & i Group, in addition to displaying information about seven specified ingredients (egg, milk, wheat, shrimp, crab, buckwheat, and peanuts) that are required to be labeled under the Food Labeling Law, also recommends displaying information about 21 equivalent items※ so that people with food allergies can choose products with confidence.
Further, due to the Consumer Affairs Agency adding almonds to the “equivalent items” category in September 2019 in light of the increase in the number of people with allergies caused by almonds, Seven-Eleven Japan and Ito-Yokado have been proactively displaying information about almonds as well.
At Seven-Eleven Japan, in addition to specified ingredients, equivalent items are displayed on all fresh foods, including boxed lunches, rice balls, sandwiches, delicatessen items, noodles, bread, and pastries. Additionally, for in-store cooked products (hot snacks, oden, Chinese steamed buns), in addition to specified ingredients, information on the use of equivalent items is disclosed on the website.
At Ito-Yokado, in-store cooked sushi, delicatessen items, etc. are labeled with "specific raw materials" and "equivalent items (excluding almonds)." The food products in the container have allergy information on their labels. For the products sold separately without packaging, a list of allergens contained in each product is posted at the store.
Ever since the menu revision in September 2018, Denny's of Seven & i Food Systems has printed information about the use of allergens (specified ingredients and equivalent items) to all menus for all time zones. In addition, a list of allergy information is available on the website, and customers can also search the menu name by allergen only in Denny's in-store menu.
Seven & i Group offers a low-allergen menu to make meals delicious and enjoyable, regardless of food allergies or not.
Ito-Yokado offers the “Healthy Fruitcake”—a cake which does not use specified ingredients—available by reservation so that customers with food allergies can eat products with confidence.
At the Denny’s restaurant chain managed by Seven & i Food Systems, there is a low-allergen menu and low-allergen cake for children that do not include any of the seven specified allergens (eggs, milk, wheat, buckwheat, peanuts, shrimp, and crab), created out of consideration for children who have food allergies. When the meals are prepared at the restaurants, employees cook and arrange the food in an area separate from the regular cooking line, and the tableware is individually washed and stored to prevent secondary contamination by allergens.
As part of its initiatives to understand food allergies, Seven-Eleven Japan co-hosted online workshops in March and April 2021 with the Atopicco Network for Children of the Earth, an authorized NPO. The workshops targeted people in their 10s and 20s with food allergies, and their guardians. Furthermore, workshops were also held as part of the “Online Summer Vacation Environmental Education Camp” organized by the same NPO. Games in which participants selected products they could eat from a display of actual products and learned about rules on food labelling and how to read them, were also conducted. Through discussions, participants shared how they chose actual products, deepening mutual understanding. Seven-Eleven Japan is committed to continued efforts to make display of allergens more accessible by referring to the opinions from the workshops.
Meeting with the NPO
Workshop on food allergies
Seven & i Goup labels genetically modified foodstuffs in accordance with relevant domestic regulations. In addition, genetically modified ingredients are not used for the main ingredients—for which labeling is obligatory—of products under the Group’s private brand Seven Premium (excluding certain products such as soy sauce and oil which use genetically modified potatoes, corn, soy beans, and other products which are permitted to be imported by the Japanese government).
In response to an increase in inquiries about radioactive materials since the Great East Japan Earthquake, Seven & i Group voluntarily conducts inspections to complement the monitoring conducted by the government, and we have posted details on our website. Inspections for radioactive substances are conducted for Ito-Yokado’s Traceable Foods with Producers' Faces and the results are published on its website.
Further, York-Benimaru, has also been posting the results of the inspection of radioactive materials conducted by its business partners and government agencies on its website.