More Than 900 in Japan Sickened by Tainted Frozen Foods

Jiji Press Ticker Service

January 9, 2014

More than 900 people in 46 out of Japan's 47 prefectures have been sickened in a pesticide-tainted food poisoning incident, according to local government and other officials.

These people suffered from fever, dizziness and stomach aches as well as vomiting and diarrhea after eating frozen foods made by Aqli Foods Corp., a unit of Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc., at a plant in Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, eastern Japan.

Police suspect that the harmful chemical malathion may have been injected into the products intentionally.

Nagasaki Prefecture in southwestern Japan was the only one where there has been no report of food poisoning tied to Aqli foods.

The number of victims was particularly high, exceeding 60, in the four prefectures of Hokkaido in northernmost Japan, Niigata and Shizuoka in the central region, and Chiba in the eastern region.

In Osaka, nearly 50 were affected. A nine-month-old boy was hospitalized Monday after eating the corn cream filling of a frozen croquette on Dec. 29. The croquette was the product that recorded the highest malathion concentration among all products tainted with the chemical.

In the northeastern Japan city of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, a five-year-old boy was hospitalized for three days after eating on Oct. 20 pizza that is believed to be among the products now being recalled for suspected malathion contamination.

Also in Sendai, an eight-year-old girl was hospitalized for three days after eating a cream croquette on Dec. 21.

A man in his 30s in Aomori Prefecture, northeastern Japan, and another man in Kanagawa Prefecture, eastern Japan, were also hospitalized due to symptoms including numbness in the limbs.

Maruha Nichiro said Tuesday it collected 1.49 million packs of frozen foods by Monday, 23% of 6.4 million packs subject to the recall. Of the total called back, 1.43 million packs were collected from the stock of supermarkets and others, while consumers returned nearly 60,000 packs.

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