Saturday, February 2, 2008

Update on the Japanese Food Poisoning

By China Watcher

The Chinese Authorities announced on Friday that a four-member team will soon leave for Japan to help investigate a food poisoning incident allegedly caused by imported Chinese frozen dumplings.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) informed the media that the team will help the Japanese side to probe the incident.

Along with AQSIQ officials, the team will include representatives of Ministry of Commerce, Hebei province's Inspection and Quarantine Bureau and the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine. The team will leave as soon as the Japanese Embassy in Beijing as soon as notification is given to do so.

Japanese media and western media reported on Wednesday, 30 January 2008, that at least 10 people in three families in Hyogo and Chiba prefectures suffered stomach ache, vomiting or diarrhea after eating frozen dumplings made by Tianyang Food Processing in northern China's Hebei province.

It has now become clear that the dumplings are alleged to be contaminated with traces of methamidophos, an organic phosphorus insecticide.

The reports have triggered concerns over Chinese-made food products in Japan.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, a leading Japanese newspaper, reported the number of people who claimed to be sick as a result of eating frozen food products from China had risen to 511 in 33 prefectures as of Friday afternoon. However, no fresh cases have so far been confirmed.

A preliminary investigation report released by the Chinese quality authority on Thursday, 31 January 2008 showed no harmful chemicals were found in samples of the frozen dumplings blamed for the incident.

The Japanese side had also informed the Chinese Food and Quality Authority that the traces of pesticide were found only in the 10 victims' vomit and on the packages of the dumplings they had eaten, but not in others from the same batches.

Hence, there is a likelihood of deliberate poisoning of which the police had to be called in to ensure there is no criminal malpractice.

Given the many years of centralized planning and the huge bureaucracy, we were amazed by the speed of the Chinese government in ordering Tianyang Food Processing to halt production and exports. Further, they were also asked to initiate the recall of all its products under a new quality control ruling implemented a few months ago to strengthen and tighten enforcement measures. Even the Japanese Cabinet Minister thought that the Chinese has been serious and speedy in handling the matter to avoid harming ties between the two countries.

Let the probe continues and wait for the outcome before we can accurately and fairly conclude unlike the preliminary prejudicial stand taken by the many anti-Chinese critics and the Western media blaming China at the slightest opportunity

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