More than 1,000 people nationwide have fallen sick after eating frozen food tainted with pesticide made by Aqlifoods Corp., according to local government and other officials.
The food, made by the unit of Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc. at a plant in Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, has caused fever, dizziness and stomachache as well as vomiting and diarrhea.
Police suspect that malathion, an insecticide, may have been purposefully injected into the products.
A particularly high number of people, over 200, have been affected in Hokkaido.
More than 100 people have been sickened in Chiba Prefecture, while over 60 have fallen ill in both Niigata and Shizuoka prefectures.
In Osaka Prefecture, where nearly 50 have been affected, including a 9-month-old boy who was hospitalized Monday after eating the creamed corn filling of a frozen croquette on Dec. 29. Of all the tainted food products, the highest concentrations of malathion have been detected in croquettes.
A 5-year-old boy in Sendai was hospitalized for three days after eating pizza on Oct. 20. It is believed the pizza was among the products being recalled for suspected malathion contamination.
Also in Sendai, an 8-year-old girl was hospitalized for three days after eating a “cream korokke” (croquette) on Dec. 21.
A man in his 30s in Aomori Prefecture, and another man in Kanagawa Prefecture, were also hospitalized with symptoms including numbness in the limbs.
Maruha Nichiro said Tuesday it collected 1.49 million packs of frozen foods by Monday, 23 percent of 6.4 million packs subject to the recall. Of the total called back, 1.43 million packs were collected from supermarkets and others, while consumers returned nearly 60,000 packs.