Second toxin found in Chinese ‘gyoza’

Kyodo News

Another type of pesticide has been detected in “gyoza” dumplings made by Tianyang Food, the Chinese company under fire over its suspected link to recent food poisonings in Japan, a distributor of the dumplings said Tuesday.

The Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union said the dumplings, which were produced June 3, contained an organophosphate pesticide called dichlorvos in concentrations so high — 110 parts per million in the dough and 0.42 ppm in the ingredients — that eating only two could affect a person’s health.

The union said it has yet to receive reports of health problems caused by the pesticide.

So far, police have confirmed that food poisoning victims in Japan ate dumplings laced with the highly toxic organophosphate pesticide methamidophos. These dumplings were also made by Tianyang Food.

Police in Fukushima Prefecture, where the dichlorvos-laced dumplings were found, said that they will investigate the case, including the product’s distribution routes.

The union was told in November that the Tezukuri Gyoza dumplings had a foul smell. The union said an earlier probe did not detect the pesticide. Tezukuri Gyoza is the same product that was found to have sickened people in Chiba in December and January.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said it will instruct each prefecture to check whether recalled dumplings contain dichlorvos, ministry officials said.

The union said only 33 out of 8,820 bags of dumplings made the same day as the dichlorvos-laced dumplings had been recovered as of Tuesday.

Most of these dumplings, distributed across Japan, are believed to have been consumed, it said.

Earlier in the day, Chiba and Hyogo police held their first joint investigative meeting over the recent food poisonings, on the presumption that the dumplings were deliberately tainted with pesticide before being shipped to Japan.

Organized by the National Police Agency, the meeting of the two prefectural forces was aimed at sharing information and waging a more thorough investigation into the sickening of 10 people in Chiba and Hyogo, NPA officials said. One of the victims, a Chiba girl, remains in serious condition.

Police suspect foul play, noting that the methamidophos that was detected in the dumplings appeared to be too concentrated to be residue. Of nearly 2,000 reported food poisoning claims to surface since last week, only 10 have been directly linked to the pesticide found in the gyoza.

It is possible the dumplings were contaminated before they were imported because methamidophos is not used in Japan and the gyoza eaten in Chiba and Hyogo prefectures were stored in the same place in China, they said.