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Producer admits allowing pesticides in rice products

Date Posted: 2008-09-12

Non-edible rice laced with pesticide residue found its way into products manufactured by an Osaka company, despite bans on the chemicals by the Japanese government.

Mikasa Foods has admitted importing rice from China, Vietnam and other Asian nations that did not meet Japanese import standards, and then using the rice in both rice crackers and alcoholic beverages. The Farm Ministry has directed Mikasa Foods to recall all products that used the tainted rice.

Farm Ministry officials say Mikasa sold the non-edible rice to other companies, which then used it in processed foods. Mitsuo Fuyuki, the president of Mikasa Foods, has admitted to the ministry he knew the rice was being used in edible food products, including shochu alcoholic beverages.

The Japanese government purchased the non-edible rice from the various countries, then sold it to Mikasa with the stipulation it not be used in edible food products. Mikasa purchased roughly 1,800 tons of imported rice from the government. The chemical Aflatoxin was found in three tons of rice imported from Vietnam in 2004. The government purchase is required under international trade rules, which specify Japan must purchase foreign rice in large quantities in order to maintain its own high rice tariffs.

While Aflatoxin was in Vietnamese rice, officials say the chemical methamidophos—the same chemical found in imported gyoza dumplings last year and early this year from China—was found in rice imported from China and later transferred to Mikasa Foods. Farm Ministry officials say the rice containing methamidophos was used in the manufacture of Japanese confectionary and rice crackers.

Authorities say Mikasa Foods in Fukuoka Prefecture also shipped the pesticide tainted rice was sold to five alcoholic beverage distillers in southwestern Japan. Officials say that, thus far, no complaints have been registered about health hazards stemming from the pesticide-laden rice.

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