What could possibly go wrong?

Spend any time in Japan and you’ll probably come across those tiny fish-shaped bottles of single-serving soy sauce. From in-flight meals to school lunches they help give meals just that right amount of salty zing.

However, in-flight meals and school lunches are virtually non-existent in today’s world. As a result, tiny fish-shaped bottle suppliers are left with a massive surplus.

Cut over to the producers of Cleanse EX, an all-natural disinfectant made from grapefruit seed extract that is purportedly highly effective against viruses, bacteria, and molds. Although, having a plentiful supply of Cleanse EX, they found themselves with a shortage of containers.

The rest is history, as outlined in this adorable promotional video for SafeHandFish.

The name is somewhat misleading in that SafeHandFish is actually meant to clean surfaces such as tables and door handles, rather than hands or tableware. The “Hand” is likely more to due with the portability of these containers (the video’s Japanese title includes the word keitai suru, meaning “to keep at hand/carry with you,” and keitai denwa, mobile phones, have sometimes been referred to as “handy phones” in Japan).

SafeHandFish is said to be “completely natural” and “considered as a food additive under the Food Sanitation Law” according to the product’s website. However, immediately after that it also says “this product is not intended to be used on the human body” and “this product is not edible.”

These bottles are intended to be slipped into take-out and delivery meals much like a regular bottle of soy sauce would. That probably sounds inherently dangerous since it’s essentially a household disinfectant that looks nearly identical to a condiment and is served in an almost identical fashion as a condiment.

To address these concerns, these bottles are given a blue cap to distinguish SafeHandFish from the red-capped soy sauce bottles. Blue was also selected as a tribute to the UN, whose call for creatives to help fight COVID-19 inspired SafeHandFish’s creation.

That might not seem like much, but actually the red cap is so ingrained in Japanese culture, that it would probably be quite jarring to receive a blue-capped bottle. It’d be like getting a black toothpick in that it’s not especially shocking, but enough to make one say, “Hey, look at that.” They also appear to have little plastic wrappers, giving the user crucial extra time to notice what it really is.

This brings us to the next concern, however, as many people would also argue that the tiny fish-shaped bottle industry is not one worth saving due to the large amount of single-use plastics involved.

There’s still a chance this whole situation could work out well for everyone though. By providing a much needed product, SafeHandFish is probably making the best possible use of the existing stock of tiny fish-shaped bottles. Meanwhile, this disruption in the status quo caused by COVID-19 is potentially an ideal time for bottle makers to explore some highly desired alternative packaging ideas.

Granted it’s probably not the likeliest scenario, but if our current predicament has taught us one thing, it’s that anything is possible.

Source: SafeHandFish, TV Asahi
Images: PR Times
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