Pesticide-tainted food poisons over a thousand in Japan

Thursday, January 16, 2014 by: Julie Wilson
Tags: food poisoning, pesticides, Japan

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(NaturalNews) Aqli Foods, a subsidiary of the Tokyo-based company Maruha Nichiro Holdings, Inc., which sells frozen seafood products in Japan, North America and Europe, has sickened over 1,700 Japanese after the company's products tested positive for pesticide levels 2.6 million times the allowable limit.

Reports confirm that the packaged food was contaminated with malathion, an agricultural pesticide that is typically used to kill aphids in corn and rice fields, but it has also been known to treat head lice. Although the pesticide's toxicity is relatively low to humans, it has caused thousands to fall ill since late last year.

The first complaints originated on November 13 when consumers complained that their frozen pizzas smelled of machine oil. As consumer complaints began to grow into the thousands, on December 29 the company recalled several products including frozen pizzas, lasagna, croquettes and chicken nuggets. Since the recall, more than half a million Japanese residents have reported complications such as vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and other food poisoning-related symptoms.

Business Standard reports that a nine-month-old baby was hospitalized after displaying food poisoning symptoms, such as vomiting, following the consumption of a product described as "creamy corn croquettes."

Under investigation

A spokesman for Maruha Nichiro Holdings, Inc., states that they frequently test packaged foods for spoilage according to Japanese law, but not for pesticides, as there's no reason to believe that pesticides would be present in their products. The investigation has been turned over to the Gunma Prefecture police, the area where authorities believe the contamination to have taken place. Detectives presume that the food was contaminated purposely during production at a factory in Gunma, north of Tokyo, possibly by a disgruntled employee.

More than 300 employees are currently under investigation, with 81 being particularly of interest because they were assigned to work in the packaging room at the time of contamination. The local press reports that some operatives dismiss allegations of the contamination having taken place there, since employees work closely together and their uniforms fail to have the pockets necessary to conceal a smelly chemical.

In total, Aqli Foods has recalled approximately 6.4 million "potentially tainted products," with 1.8 million recovered last week. Fortunately, the company affirmed that none of the products in question have been shipped overseas.

Food quality in Japan

Japan is typically known for having relatively high food quality standards, minus the effects of the Fukushima meltdown. Companies with questionable products generally go out of business due to a foiled reputation.

As the damage caused by the 2011 Fukushima disaster continues to be assessed, researchers press ahead in their search for radioactive effects on the environment, and particularly on our food sources.

RT recently released a report with findings of more fish containing deadly levels of radioactive cesium off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. Scientists recorded one of 37 samples of the black sea specimen as being "124 times deadlier than the threshold considered safe for human consumption."

According to the report, researchers caught two other fish species that also tested unsafe for human consumption, with radiation levels of 426 and 197 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg). Following the nuclear meltdown, Japanese health officials lowered their threshold for cesium levels in food from 500 Bq/kg to 100 Bq/kg. The new regulations are six times stricter than European standards.

Some scientists estimate that the effects of Fukushima could cause 400-800 additional cancer cases in Japan over the next 50 years; however, these estimates are expected to increase significantly as research continues.

"We've already seen some effects in infant mortality and thyroid cancer in Japan," said Chris Busby of the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk. "So I think this is just going to get worse. I think we are going to see a major effect on the general health of the Japanese population in Northern Japan. There's going to be a decrease in the birth rate and an increase in the death rate."

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