What does this mark on Japan’s milk cartons mean?

Have you been to Japan’s supermarkets or convenience stores and noticed some cartons have a notch mark, like it is chipped off on the top of their milk cartons? Actually, this is a barrier-free design specifically made for the visually impaired.

This mark, apparently, only exists on cartons that contain 100 per cent milk. In the case of chocolate-flavoured milk, strawberry-flavoured milk, low-fat milk, or any other milk that has been modified, the cartons will not have this mark. However, this is an optional design, which means not all manufacturers implement the mark on their milk cartons.

How this mark came about is from a survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries from 1993 to 1995, targeted at the visually impaired. They found out that the most inconvenient container is the carton. Some 76.8 per cent of the surveyed also answered “Milk versus other drinks” when asked what cartoned drinks they would like to differentiate between. Based on these results, the government, industry organisations and individuals cooperated and began to implement this mark on milk cartons from 2001.

In addition, the curve mark has a radius of either 2.5mm or 6.5mm, and is positioned opposite of the opening of a 500ml or more carton. If you pay attention to the where the mark is, opening the carton from the opposite end will not be a feat.

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