TONAMI, TOYAMA PREF. – The death toll in a string of food poisoning cases believed to be caused by consuming raw meat at a “yakiniku” barbecue restaurant chain has risen to four after a 70-year-old woman died Thursday, local authorities said.
In response, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry asked prefectural governments to conduct emergency checks on whether restaurants serving meat to be eaten raw are properly observing sanitation standards, ministry officials said.
The woman had been hospitalized for food poisoning and fell into serious condition after dining at an outlet of the Yakiniku-zakaya Ebisu chain in Tonami, Toyama Prefecture, on April 23, according to the prefectural government.
She was a family member of another woman in her 40s who dined with her and died Wednesday.
In addition to the two women, two boys in Toyama and Fukui prefectures also died in April in the food poisoning cases involving the restaurant chain operator, Foods Forus Co., based in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.
The restaurant chain bought the raw meat from a wholesaler in Tokyo.
More than 30 people have been hospitalized in the food poisoning outbreak in Toyama and Kanagawa prefectures, with about 20 of them in serious condition. Enterohemorrhagic E. coli bacteria including the O-111 and O-157 strains have been detected in many of the cases.
The Toyama, Fukui and Kanagawa prefectural police have launched investigations on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death or injury.