Japan's Tainted Food - Over 350 People Sickened


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Frozen foods in Japan have sickened 350 people and counting due to food poisoning.

The frozen food products are said to be tainted with a pesticide according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

The company Maruhu Nichiro Holdings, after learning of the illnesses, began recalling 6.4 million frozen products in late December - after discovering that they were in fact, tainted by high levels of pesticides.

Information from local governments claimed that at least 356 people were extremely sick suffering from vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms, said NHK. The tainted food included a large array of frozen products, such as pizza, croquettes and lasagna.

The company said that it had received approximately 460,000 phone calls from consumers complaining of illness and other complaints from customers who reported an unusual odor, a company spokesman said.

The company says it has retrieved about 1.1 million packages - out of 6.4 million recalled products. Last week, the company issued a formal apology and asking consumers not to eat any of the affected products.

Unfortunately, unless consumers are informed of the exact product names, most will still have tainted foods sitting in their freezers and unknowingly consume the products. Luckily, Maruhua Nichiro Company said it did not ship any of these products overseas.

Police are investigating how the pesticide malathion, reportedly up to 2.6 million times the allowable limit, got into the products in the first place. A factory in northern Japan’s Gunma prefecture produced the tainted products.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated that malathion is a pesticide used in farming and gardening and also to kill fleas. At high enough concentrations, it can cause death.

The company needs to immediately broadcast a complete list of all suspect products to the public. With over 5 million tainted products still unaccounted for, it could eliminate further illness and possible deaths.

Image via Maruhu Nichiro Holdings