Japan Police Query Workers in Tainted Food Investigation

Yuki Yamaguchi
Bloomberg News
January 8, 2014

Police in Japan are questioning about 300 employees of a packaged-food maker whose products sickened hundreds of people after pesticide at 2.6 million times the permitted levels were found in frozen croquettes.

Police are probing the factory and workers for evidence in the contamination of food made at Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc. (1334)’s plant in eastern Japan, according to a Gunma prefecture police statement yesterday.

The matter was referred to police after prefectural health officials found no evidence of contamination during production at the facility where the food was made. Food from the company’s Gunma factory sickened at least 890 people in Japan and was found to contain the pesticide malathion, public broadcaster NHK reported yesterday.

“The company is partly to blame because they weren’t testing,” said Edwin Merner, president of Atlantis Investment Research Corp. in Tokyo, which manages about $3 billion in assets. “You’ll see a big drop in sales of the food.”

Maruha Nichiro is recalling about 6.4 million bags of frozen foods after finding the pesticide in products including croquettes, frozen pizza and chicken nuggets, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement Dec. 29.

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