OSAKA — Osaka prosecutors searched the Sapporo head office of Snow Brand Milk Products Co. on Wednesday in their probe of suspected professional negligence that resulted in one consumer dying and some 140 others falling sick from last summer’s food-poisoning outbreak.
The Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office also searched the Tokyo home of former Snow Brand President Tetsuro Ishikawa, 67.
It is unusual for prosecutors to search for further evidence after police have turned over a case to them.
Sources close to the case said the prosecutors and Osaka Prefectural Police planned to search other locations relating to Snow Brand later Wednesday and today. Investigative sources said prosecutors hope to clarify how Snow Brand executives handled information on last year’s food-poisoning outbreak, caused by the firm’s low-fat milk and other dairy products.
Hiroshi Soma, 62, a former managing director at the company, allegedly failed to take action after receiving seven complaints on June 28 about low-fat milk products.
The company’s failure to take swift action allegedly caused some 140 consumers to become ill and led to the death of an 84-year-old woman who drank a Snow Brand milk product on June 29.
The Osaka Municipal Government ordered the plant to recall its products and announce the food-poisoning to the public.
Ishikawa is suspected of causing some 60 people to suffer food-poisoning as a result of failing to swiftly make a public announcement about the outbreak.
Health authorities concluded Dec. 20 that bacterial toxin in powdered skim milk produced at Snow Brand’s Taiki factory in Hokkaido was the cause of the widespread food-poisoning outbreak.
About 13,400 people in western Japan fell ill as a result of the outbreak.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.