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Maruha Nichiro product. (Photo: Stock File)

Source for Maruha’s food contamination still unclear

  (JAPAN, 1/3/2014)

After a resounding debate on the content of Malathion detected in Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc’s products, at levels that could be harmful to consumers, now the attention turns to the possible cause of the problem.

Traces of this organic phosphate, commonly used as a pesticide, were found in nine samples of seven different product lines, ranging from croquettes to pizza. This situation has given rise to complaints from consumers since November, due to the observed odour.

Now the question is how the pesticide made its way into the food.

The frozen food was produced by Aqli Foods Corp., a holding subsidiary, at its plant in Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, The Asahi Shimbun informed.

Sources including the Gunma prefectural government, which carried out the inspection under the Food Sanitation Law, said the production lines for each of those items at the Aqli Foods factory are independent and different firms make their packages. Moreover, they seem not to have common points concerning their storage and transport, Kyodo News pointed out.

At first, paintwork inside the factory was thought to be the cause, but testing by an external body detected Malathion on Friday. Malathion is reportedly not used in any production lines at the factory or anywhere on the factory’s premises.

“We figured it is unlikely they were contaminated in the production process. We cannot deny the possibility of deliberate tampering,” said a prefectural government official after the inspection to the factory, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Hiroshi Naito, an addiction expert and emeritus professor at the University of Tsukuba, agreed, “[The levels of Malathion detected] are too high to be considered residual pesticides. As we have seen a frozen gyoza poisoning case before, it is possible that someone added the chemical.”

However, there are no reports of serious health damage; one child did vomit as a result of the odour, according to the company.

The company, which has already withdrawn from the market 6.3 million packages of frozen food, said it has suspended operations at the Gunma factory and halted shipments from it until the cause of the problem is determined.


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Information of the company:
Address: 1-2 1-chome, Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku
City: Tokyo
State/ZIP: (100-8608)
Country: Japan
Phone: +81 3 3216 0821
Fax: +81 3 3216 0342
E-Mail: [email protected]
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