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Second pesticide discovered in frozen gyoza dumplings

Date Posted: 2008-02-08

A distributor that imports frozen dumplings from China is reporting its laboratory technicians have found a second type pesticide in the products.
The Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union reports finding dichlorvos, an organophosphate pesticide, in samples tested from Tianyang Food, the parent company of Hebei Foodstuffs, which produced the gyoza for export to Japan. The Union reports the toxin was so strong—110 parts per million in dough and 0.42 parts per million in ingredients—it could cause health damage after eating only two gyoza.
With more than 2,000 food poisoning cases now reported to Japanese authorities, investigators are studying possibilities the frozen dumplings may have been tampered with after being produced. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is directing all prefectures to double check whether there is dichlorvos in any of the recovered recalled products.
Police have found high concentrations of the pesticide methamidophos in earlier dumplings tested, levels laboratory specialists say are too high to have been accidental. Japanese authorities also emphasize the pesticide methamidophos is not used in Japan. Chinese and Japanese investigators are reportedly considering tampering occurred in China, before export to Japan, because the contaminated products were stored at the same location in China.
Japan Tobacco, which owns JT Foods Co., the unit importing the Chinese products, says the furor over the food poisoning cases has forced it to dump plans to merge its frozen food divisions. Japan Tobacco had been set to merge operations with Nissin Food Products Company, selling 49% of its ailing Katokichi frozen foods product unit to Nissin and blending the two companies’ frozen food operations.
JT stock shares have dropped more than eight percent since the gyoza recalls were announced in late January. The company owns nearly 94% of Katokichi stock, and says “It’s regrettable the idea of a three-company operation didn’t work out.” Nissin Food’s president, Koki Ando, noted “there was a difference between JT and Nissin in the ways we think about food safety." Ando is unhappy with the way JT has handled the food poisoning issues, including lengthy delays in removing products from store shelves, and public announcements warning consumers of the potential dangers from frozen gyoza.

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