More than 350 people have
been sickened across Japan after eating frozen food products that may have been
tainted with a pesticide,
Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported Tuesday.
Food maker Maruha Nichiro
Holdings began recalling 6.4 million packages of various frozen foods, saying
it found some were tainted by high levels of pesticides. The company has
received hundreds of thousands of calls about the problem.
NHK said information from
local governments showed 356 people suffered vomiting, diarrhoea and other
problems after eating items subject to the recall, which include a wide range
of products such as frozen pizzas, croquettes and lasagne.
It was unclear, however, if
consumption of the tainted products was directly responsible for the illnesses,
poisoning – the facts
Maruha Nichiro says it has
retrieved about 1.1 million packages subject to the recall so far.
Last week, it issued a
formal apology and appealed to consumers not to eat any of the affected
Police are investigating
how the items were contaminated with the pesticide malathion, reportedly by up
to 2.6 million times the allowable limit.
The tainted products were
produced by a factory in northern Japan's Gunma prefecture.
Malathion is a pesticide
used in farming and gardening and also to kill fleas on animals and people. At
high enough concentrations, it can cause death, according to the US Centres for
poisons that lurk in most households
Food quality scandals
There have been no reports
of life-threatening illnesses from Maruha's products, but the contamination has
further shaken public confidence undermined by various food quality scandals.
Late last year a slew of
top-notch hotels and department stores apologised after it was found that some
of the items they were selling were actually cheaper substitutes. Local
magazines are also warning that trade agreements with other countries like
China might lead to imports of contaminated or otherwise unsafe products.
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