A Health and Welfare Ministry task force on Monday held its first meeting to consider the outbreak of food poisoning in western Japan caused by contaminated low-fat and calcium-enriched milk produced of Snow Brand Milk Products Co.
The task force aims to pinpoint the cause of the poisoning and prevent a “milk panic” among consumers stemming from inaccurate information.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, task force head Itaru Nishimoto strongly criticized Snow Brand.
“This food poisoning incident is one of the biggest caused by such a big-name company,” he said, adding that questions remain over the measures the company took after the poisoning broke out.
Task force members discussed instituting preventive measures and administrative guidance in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries based on the result of Friday’s inspection of the plant by Yutaka Fukushima, parliamentary vice-minister for health and welfare, and a nationwide inspection of dairy production facilities.
The task force will also consider introducing stricter guidelines for the ministry to grant Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) authorization to plants.
The Health ministry on Tuesday is expected to revoke the HACCP authorization for Snow Brand’s factory at Osaka’s Miyakojima Ward after holding a hearing.
Meanwhile, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced Monday that Snow Brand’s factory in Hino, western Tokyo, has passed a hygiene inspection.
Company officials said the factory will prepare to resume production and probably start shipping products on Thursday.
The metropolitan government earlier instructed the plant to suspend operations due to the lack of cleaning records for its product storage tanks.
The metropolitan government’s Education Bureau on Monday informed public schools that they may resume using Snow Brand products for school lunches.
More than 13,000 people in western Japan have become ill after consuming Snow Brand products.