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Seven-Eleven hopes long-fresh rice balls take bite out of waste

Japan's top convenience store chain wants onigiri that sticks to shelves longer

Rice balls line the shelves at a Seven-Eleven Japan store. The chain sells over 2 billion of them each year. (Photo by Yoichi Iwata)

TOKYO -- Rice balls are a Japanese fast-food staple -- and fodder for competition among the country's convenience store chains. Now, the biggest of those companies wants to give its brand more staying power.

Seven-Eleven Japan is developing a way to roughly double the shelf life of these triangular or oval handfuls of rice, known as onigiri in Japanese, without adding preservatives.

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