Food poisoning deaths jumped in ’11

Kyodo

Eleven people died from food poisoning in 2011, the first fatalities in three years and the first time the toll has exceeded 10 in nine years, according to health ministry data obtained Saturday.

The victims included seven people who died of the O-157 strain of E. coli bacteria, five of whom fell ill amid a rash of cases linked to raw meat served at a “yakiniku” barbecue restaurant chain.

However, the total number of food poisoning cases fell to 1,062 in 2011, while the number of people who were sickened also dropped to 21,616. A subpanel of the Pharmaceutical Affairs and Food Sanitation Council, which advises the health minister, will be briefed on further details about the data at a meeting Monday.