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Japan Tainted Frozen Foods Prompt Recall for 6.4M Items

Image: Japan Tainted Frozen Foods Prompt Recall for 6.4M Items

By Clyde Hughes   |   Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 10:30 AM

Frozen food possibly tainted by pesticides caused hundreds to get sick in Japan and has sparked a recall of 6.4 million packages.

The frozen food recall includes pizza, croquettes and pancakes manufactured in a Gunma Prefecture Japanese factory, according to the Associated Press. Maruha Nichiro Holdings bought full-page advertisements in major newspapers in Japan on Wednesday, warning customers of the tainted items and apologizing.

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The company received thousands of concerned calls about the products.

"The products will have a strong smell and eating them may cause vomiting and stomach pain," Maruha said in a statement, according to the AP. The notice included 51 color photos of the products in question.

Japan's Health Ministry confirmed that 556 people became ill after eating the possibly tainted those products as of late Tuesday. The ministry told the BBC News that symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain.

Maruha found that some of the products it tested contained high levels of the pesticide Malathion, which prompted the recall. Malathion can cause death if it is consumed in high concentrations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said.

The pesticide is used in farming, gardening and for killing fleas. The public broadcaster NHK World noted on Wednesday that almost 900 people had reported symptoms after eating the products.

Maruha Nichiro told the Associated Press that it had so far received about 1.1 million packages connected with the recall.

The latest food concerns in Japan come on the heels of other food fears because of radiation contamination.

CNTV reported in August that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011 dumped more than 300 tons of radioactive water into the northern Japanese soil and the ocean.

"I heard that organic farmers are suffering from rumors that composts and soil are contaminated and products may be unsafe to eat," Nobuko Tanimura, from the Nuclear Information Center, said.

Radiation monitors told CNTV that the Japanese government needed to increase its examination of soil and food samples to ensure food safety and alleviate radiation fears.

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