A Japanese company has found the solution to prevent death risk facing tens of millions of elderly citizens who might eat the traditional food on New Year – rice cakes that are safe to eat.
Mochi – glutinous cakes of pounded rice – kill several people in Japan each January after they stick to their throats, especially in the case of elderly people.
The sticky rice cakes are eaten in large quantities during the New Year’s period. In order to prevent any accident, a company in Osaka recently unveiled a safer alternative.
Fukunao Medical Foods says its mochi rice cakes form part of easy-to-swallow new year feasts the company has made available for pre-order, according to the international press.
Other companies have adopted the idea of business. Five traditional confectionery firms in Kyoto say their “safe” mochi include an enzyme that makes them less sticky, while keeping their familiar taste.
“It still has the flavor of sticky rice, but without the firmness,” Takahiro Ueda, one of the firms involved.
The product will be ready by next year, but the companies say they are encouraged by tasting sessions held this year.
Last year, two people died from choking on sticky rice cakes, while other 15 people were taken to the hospital due to mochi-related incidents.
In 2011, at least eight people died, most of whom were over 70, and another 18 were taken to hospital.
In 2010, Japan’s food safety commission ranked mochi among the top causes of food-related choking incidents, and found that more than 80 percent of victims were elderly.