OSAKA — Over 7,000 people had been affected by food poisoning as of Monday after drinking low-fat milk marketed by Snow Brand Milk Products Co., while only 15 percent of the milk subject to recall had been retrieved.

A Kyodo News tally on Monday revealed that 7,257 people in eight prefectures in western Japan had been affected.

The company said that 44,000 of the 298,000 cartons of milk subject to recall had been recovered.

All the milk on retail store shelves has been retrieved, and the company will recall cartons in wholesale stores or warehouses from now on, according to company officials.

The Osaka prefectural health authority concluded that the food poisoning was caused by a toxin produced by staphylococcus aureus bacteria, after detecting the toxin in five cartons of milk drunk by people who became ill.

The Osaka Municipal Government on Sunday ordered Snow Brand to shut down the factory in Osaka’s Miyakojima Ward where the milk had been processed.

The Osaka municipal public health center inspected the factory Monday. Police visited the factory Sunday and are continuing their investigation.

The factory produced 112 million liters of 66 kinds of dairy products in fiscal 1999, mainly for the Kinki region.

Representatives from the company visited the households of 2,800 people who had become ill from drinking the tainted milk and offered to cover their medical costs, the company said.