Over 350 in Japan sickened by tainted frozen food

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Over 350 in Japan sickened by tainted frozen food
A woman shops at a supermarket in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. 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. Food maker Maruha Nichiro Holdings began recalling 6.4 million packages of various frozen foods on Dec. 29, saying it found some were tainted by high levels of pesticides. The company has received hundreds of thousands of calls about the problem. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
In this Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 photo, the notice of apology and recall is placed on the shelves of frozen food products at a supermarket in Fujisawa, near Tokyo. 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. Food maker Maruha Nichiro Holdings began recalling 6.4 million packages of various frozen foods on Dec. 29, saying it found some were tainted by high levels of pesticides. The company has received hundreds of thousands of calls about the problem. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
In this Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 photo, the notice of apology and recall is placed on the shelves of frozen food products at a supermarket in Fujisawa, near Tokyo. 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. Food maker Maruha Nichiro Holdings began recalling 6.4 million packages of various frozen foods on Dec. 29, saying it found some were tainted by high levels of pesticides. The company has received hundreds of thousands of calls about the problem. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
This picture taken on December 31, 2013 shows packages of frozen foods produced by Japanese food company Maruha Nichiro Holdings' subsidiary Aqli Foods at the headquarters of Maruha Nichiro in Tokyo as more than 300 people across Japan have fallen ill after eating frozen food products contaminated with pesticide. Shoppers have reported vomiting, diarrhoea and other symptoms of food poisoning after eating food produced at a plant in Gunma, run by a subsidiary of the nation's largest seafood firm Maruha Nichiro Holdings, is at the centre of the nation's latest food poisoning scandal. AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on December 31, 2013 shows Toshio Kushiro (L), president of Japanese food company Maruha Nichiro Holdings and its subsidiary frozen foods company Aqli Foods president Yutaka Tanabe (R) bowing their heads to apologize at the headquarters of Maruha Nichiro in Tokyo as more than 300 people across Japan have fallen ill after eating frozen food products contaminated with pesticide. Shoppers have reported vomiting, diarrhoea and other symptoms of food poisoning after eating food produced at a plant in Gunma, run by a subsidiary of the nation's largest seafood firm Maruha Nichiro Holdings, is at the centre of the nation's latest food poisoning scandal. AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on January 4, 2014 shows police investigators entering the Gunma factory of Japanese frozen foods company Aqli Foods, a subsidiary of Japanese food company Maruha Nichiro Holdings at Oizumi in Gunma prefecture, north of Tokyo to inspect plant facilities. More than 300 people across Japan have fallen ill after eating frozen food products contaminated with pesticide. Shoppers have reported vomiting, diarrhoea and other symptoms of food poisoning after eating food produced at a plant in Gunma, run by a subsidiary of the nation's largest seafood firm Maruha Nichiro Holdings, is at the centre of the nation's latest food poisoning scandal. AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
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TOKYO (AP) - 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.

Food maker Maruha Nichiro Holdings began recalling 6.4 million packages of various frozen foods on Dec. 29, saying it found some were tainted by high levels of pesticides. The company has received hundreds of thousands of calls about the problem.

It used full-page advertising space in Japan's major newspapers Wednesday to apologize and warn consumers not to eat any of the tainted frozen food, including pizza, croquettes and pancakes manufactured in one factory in Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo.

"The products will have a strong smell and eating them may cause vomiting and stomach pain," it said in the notice, which included 51 color photos of the problem products.

NHK said information from local governments showed 356 people suffered vomiting, diarrhea and other problems after eating items subject to the recall. But it was not clear if consumption of the tainted products was directly responsible for the illnesses, NHK said.

Tokyo-based 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 products. Police are investigating how the items were contaminated with the pesticide malathion, reportedly by up to 2.6 million times the allowable limit.

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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

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 apologized after it was found that some of the items they were selling were actually cheaper substitutes.
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