Food and Nutraceutical manufacturers are still using fake Wasabi in their products.
It seems that purchasing departments, legal and accounting staff are unable to grasp that purchasing $10 a pound "Wasabi" from China does not allow their sales and marketing departments to claim their product contains Wasabi (Wasabia japonica).
What is the reason why this fraud goes on?
There are two major reasons why this continues.
Most companies and their staff offer ignorance as the main reason why they purchase and use Fake Wasabi and make this claim on their products. I suspect that this excuse is a fabricated one as these days there is too much information available that spells out the differences in all types of media. You only need to look at the information on this website to realise that such a lie is transparently BS.
It is this "head in the sand" attitude coupled with Government agencies choosing to ignore these blatant cases of fraud and misrepresentation and not prosecute the offenders that encourages them to continue.
My wife and I have been fighting against these lies and deceit since we started growing Wasabia japonica (Wasabi) back in 1990.
We have tried dealing with a number of Governments about this fraud that has been foisted onto the public, but they do not really want to know. They seem to regard that the term "wasabi" is so ingrained in the public consciousness as "something" that gives sinus rush and flavour explosion, then anything can be called wasabi if it has these characteristics.
Basically, they are lazy and refuse to deal with such a massive fraud that has been around since the end of WWII.
I suppose at this point I should put on my foil hat and scream conspiracy.
In Europe and now Australia, some authorities are carrying out checks on various products to ensure that the ingredients list are actually true. A number of products in Europe were forced to change their wasabi labels to show that the "wasabi" was actually mustard, horseradish and other additives, and some were physically removed from shelves by the authorities.
This is, I believe, the main reason why companies and manufacturers of all types choose to use the fake wasabi over the Authentic Wasabi (Wasabia japonica).
These companies work on the assumption that the customer cannot tell the difference between the fake wasabi and the authentic Wasabia japonica (Wasabi), and that therefore justifies the use.
The companies know the difference is enough to increase the amount of profit they make, especially when the regulatory agencies are toothless tigers that will do nothing to rein them in.
The increased profits in most cases are very large as the difference between the cheap wasabi from China and Authentic Wasabia japonica from a reputable grower is significant.
Who are the losers in all this?
The main loser is the customer as they are being subjected to fraudulent behaviour by their suppliers.
In the case of both using fake wasabi as a food or a health supplement, the customer does not get the health benefits that the use of Authentic Wasabia japonica provides.
The logical thing at this point would be to suggest that you look for Wasabia japonica being shown on the ingredients list for the product you purchase. So sorry, but even that doesn't work any more.
There are even well known companies that state on their labels that they use our Brand Sawa from our previous company (New Zealand Wasabi Limited) in their products. Since they have never purchased any product from us since we started in 1990 I can only assume that one of their suppliers is pulling the wool over their eyes.
Are changes coming?
I would like to think so, but after nearly 30 years telling people, companies, government agencies and organisation about this fraud and misrepresentation of products, there is little to show.
Yes changes might be starting, Europe (excluding UK) and Australia have started the ball rolling by carried out ingredient analysis on products currently on the store shelves. None of this was prompted by Wasabi itself, but by complaints about herb adulteration and wrong species identification in products.
How long these changes will take to get the food, condiment, nutraceutical and snack companies to actually realise that the public want to know what they are eating and will comply with both the fraud laws and the various other rules and regulations relating to food is anyone's guess.
We are proud to have only ever supplied 100% Pure Wasabia japonica powder to the world since 2004, but are still frustrated by food and nutraceutical companies that would prefer to spend less than $20 a kilo on the fake stuff, and then charge the customer as though they have used the authentic wasabi.
Anyway now I have got that rant of my chest. Have a great weekend. :)
We have put together a Wasabi List, which contains information on a number of "wasabi" products currently on the shelf near you, or available from the Internet. We have analysed these products and produced a list which details what is actually in these products. You can get your FREE Wasabi List from here.
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