Heading into the traditional year-end celebrations, Japanese citizens will not appreciate news of a major food company announcing a recall of 6.3 million frozen food packages after it was discovered that some of its products had pesticide in them. Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc., a major supplier of frozen food in Japan – with products ranging from frozen pizzas to corn cream croquettes – has announced that it is in the process of recalling all of its 90 products produced at its Aqli Foods Co. plant in Gunma Prefecture.
The recall was triggered when around 20 calls came in early November, with consumers complaining that one of its frozen pizzas smelled of petroleum oil or machine oil. When the company checked the samples sent back by customers, they found that some of the samples contained malathion, an insecticide used mostly in agriculture. Malathion has relatively low toxicity levels for humans, but exposure and ingestion can cause diarrhea and nausea. According to information from the company, 44 of the products were sold at retail outlets while the other 46 were supplied to restaurants. The amount of food being recalled is roughly equivalent to a whole month’s output of the plant. The company said that so far, there have been no reports of serious illness caused by their food products.
“We are making an all-out effort to investigate, but are still unable to specify the cause at this moment,” the company said in a press release Sunday. The local public health authorities have already conducted their own inspection of the facility on Monday. The company informed authorities that malathion is not used at the plant in any form. This recall is similar to a nationwide incident in 2008 where pesticide-tainted frozen dumplings were recalled by Japan Tobacco Inc. The dumplings were imported from China, and caused sickness in 10 people in Japan. Around 450,000 packages of dumplings and other frozen food products were recalled, and an employee at the Chinese plant was arrested for putting the pesticide into the processed food.
[via Wall Street Journal]
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