‘Gyoza’ poisoned after leaving factory: China

by Kaho Shimizu

The head of the Chinese delegation in Japan for talks over recent food poisonings said Wednesday he believes the Chinese-made frozen “gyoza” dumplings were deliberately tainted with pesticide after being shipped from the factory and not during the production process.

Speaking at a joint news conference with the Japanese side in Tokyo, Li Chunfeng stressed that Tianyang Food’s factory in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province — where the tainted dumplings were made — has strict and thorough quality control measures that made it almost impossible to mix the toxic substance there.

“I believe that the incident did not stem from structural problems but rather is a specific case,” Li, vice director of China’s Import and Export Food Safety Bureau at the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said after morning talks with the Japanese officials.

But he noted the situation keeps changing and no conclusions have been reached.

Shigeru Hotta of the Cabinet Office said Japan is considering all possibilities.

The five-member delegation arrived Sunday on a four-day visit and held three rounds of talks with Japanese representatives, hoping to determine how the dumplings were contaminated with the toxic pesticide methamidophos.

The Japanese officials explained to their Chinese counterparts how the incident surfaced and how the government has dealt with the issue.

During the talks, which mainly focused on exchanging information, both sides agreed to keep working together to identify the cause of the poisoning and to appoint a contact person on each side to facilitate cooperation.

Li said China wants to set up a joint investigation team with Japan to pin down the cause, but Hotta said no decision has been reached.

The revelation of the tainted dumplings has sent the media into a frenzy, and Japanese consumers have been scared off buying food products made in China.

Li reiterated that Chinese food products are safe and asked consumers not to refrain from buying them.

“Today is New Year’s Eve under the Chinese calendar and more than 1 billion people in China will eat gyoza, and so will I,” Li said.