There has been a recent outbreak of food poisoning in Japan, with hundreds of people sickened by contaminated frozen food.
Food Company Maruha Nichiro recalled frozen products of lasagna and pancakes due to repeated complaints of vomiting and diarrhea.
After responding to frequent calls from consumers, the products were found tainted with a high level of Malathion, a pesticide used primarily in agriculture.
According to information provided by the National Pesticide Information Center, the kidney and liver (overall the nervous system) can be affected by the smallest exposure:
“You could be exposed to malathion if you get it on your skin or breathe it in, or if you use a product and eat, drink, or smoke afterwards without washing your hands…you could also be exposed to residues of malathion if you ate food that had been treated with this pesticide.”
Aside from stomach issues, the NPIC also reported that the chemical could cause other symptoms such as: headaches, abdominal pain, a shortness of breath, a slowed heart and muscle tremors.
It is unknown how the packages became contaminated, but a factory in northern Japan’s Gunma region produced the food products.(image)
An ongoing investigation by detectives has been developing since last month after the company discovered that their products were contaminated with the pesticide. There is slight speculation that the products may have been intentionally infested.
On Wednesday, Maruha publicly made an apology through a newspaper advertisement displaying photos of the pesticide-products. They also added a warning to not consume the products.
“The products will have a strong smell and eating them may cause vomiting and stomach pain,” it said in the notice.
Since December 29, Maruha Nichiro Holdings has recalled nearly 6.4 frozen packages but only 1 million have been retrieved thus far.
There have been no reported deaths, but complaints about the food scandal may have just shot down consumer confidence in the food industry; especially when it's related to imported products.