Frozen food maker recalling 6 million packages over pesticide concerns

December 30, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

A frozen food producer is recalling up to 6.3 million packages possibly tainted with pesticide after customers complained of strange odors emanating from the products.

Officials of Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc., the nation’s largest seafood processing company, said Dec. 29 that products produced by a subsidiary were found with malathion, a pesticide of relatively low human toxicity that is not carcinogenic.

The frozen food was produced by Aqli Foods Corp. at its plant in Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture.

Maruha Nichiro is recalling all products from the Gunma plant that are currently on the market and looking into how the pesticide was mixed into the food.

“A check was made of the chemicals and raw materials used at the plant, but the pesticide was not found,” a company official said. “We will look into not only the manufacturing process, but also the possibility that the products were tainted outside of the plant.”

Company officials have consulted with Gunma prefectural police on the matter.

According to Maruha Nichiro officials, between mid-November and late December, consumers filed complaints of a strange smell from 20 packages of three different types of frozen food--mixed pizza, fried chicken and corn croquette. The complaints came from a wide range of locations.

One child who tried to eat the pizza spit it out immediately after taking a bite. So far, no reports have been submitted about health problems arising from the frozen food in question.

Officials of the Gunma prefectural government inspected the production process of the Gunma plant on Dec. 30.

Eleven of the 20 packages were given to an outside agency for study. Malathion was detected in four of the packages covering all three frozen foods. There were no signs of holes made by needles on the packaging.

Aqli Foods suspended production at the Gunma plant on Dec. 27. The plant manufactured 42 products for the general market as well as 46 products for industrial use, including for school meals.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Maruha Nichiro Holdings President Toshio Kushiro, left, and Aqli Foods Corp. President Hiroshi Tanabe apologize during a news conference on Dec. 29. (Daisuke Shimizu)

Maruha Nichiro Holdings President Toshio Kushiro, left, and Aqli Foods Corp. President Hiroshi Tanabe apologize during a news conference on Dec. 29. (Daisuke Shimizu)

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  • Maruha Nichiro Holdings President Toshio Kushiro, left, and Aqli Foods Corp. President Hiroshi Tanabe apologize during a news conference on Dec. 29. (Daisuke Shimizu)
  • Packages of frozen food products possibly tainted with pesticide (Daisuke Shimizu)

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