TOKYO, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Japan's franchise store Lawson Inc. admitted on Wednesday that two of its convenience stores had systematically falsified expiration times on some food items prepared in the stores.
The well-known company, which operates around 14,000 convenience stores in Japan and also in some Chinese cities, closed the two stores after discovering the misconduct carried over a period of more than two years.
"We deeply apologize for having caused serious inconvenience to our customers," Lawson said in a statement.
The stores in question, located in Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo, were found to have tampered the labels on boxed meals and bakery two hours before their expiration times to extend their shelf lives for seven hours, Lawson said.
One of the stores continued the malpractice for two and a half years since it opened in July 2016, involving up to 13,700 items. The other tampered the packaging between around 2014 and June 2017, the company said.
The two outlets were run by the same franchise owner, who was aware of the label tampering by employees, Lawson said. It is not known whether the owner ordered the misconduct.
Currently, Lawson is going through all its outlets in Japan to see if there have been similar malpractice.
The company plans to watch closely over the stores' operations, taking measures such as installing a camera in the kitchen and keeping track of the number of food labels used at each store.