Supermarkets all across Japan have been struggling to keep up with demand for that barely-tolerated gritty beverage known as tomato juice.  This is the latest in an ongoing series of food fads many in the country believe to be effective in reducing weight like cabbage and bananas.

At the beginning of February one supermarket in Osaka had a well-stocked shelf of tomato juice daily, most likely catering to the odd person avoiding blood clots or making Bloody Marys.  However, on the weekend of February 10, hordes of shoppers descended on their supply of juice like so many locusts on a farm.  By the 14th, the staff was turning desperate dieters away as new shipments could not reach them in time.

Also, there was an unusually high number of middle-aged men asking for the juice. “I’m trying to fight metabolic syndrome” some explained.

“It’s fantastic to move so much juice this fast, but it’s just another trendy diet that will fade away like the others” an employee said with a wry smile.

This shop is not alone though. ‘Major supermarket chains all over Japan have reported a sharp 50% increase in produce sales, but this is causing an unbalance with shipment schedules as tomato juice is disappearing four times faster than before.  Every supermarket is having difficulty avoiding shortages.

The cause of this hysteria can be traced back to a report published by researchers at Kyoto University working in cooperation with food producers.  The study concluded that mice ingesting tomatoes “equivalent to 200mL, three times a day for a human” had “reduced levels of neutral fat in their blood.”

This study was then picked up by the media who broadcasted it omitting or glossing over the less sexy disclaimer: “additional research is needed to confirm these dietary effects.”

So expect empty shelves of tomato juice across Japan for a while, but if you’re like me and most people you were never looking for it anyway.  For those of us not swayed by reduced levels of neutral fat in our blood (because we don’t know what it means), take solace in the fact we can readily eat bananas again.

Original Story: Yomiuri Online