• Kyodo News


Since the revelation late last month that 10 people suffered chemical poisoning after eating China-made “gyoza” dumplings tainted with pesticide, more than 2,800 people have complained of feeling sick after eating frozen food from China.

None, other than the 10, has been recognized as suffering from chemical poisoning, health officials said Thursday.

Experts said that if patients had consumed only minute doses of pesticide, doctors would have probably reached a diagnosis of food poisoning and would not have conducted tests for organophosphates.

“We took a particularly detailed look at cases in which patients were hospitalized and have concluded that no one else other than the 10 people suffered from organophosphate poisoning,” the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced.

Authorities have not been able to determine how the toxic organophosphate insecticide methamidophos made its way into the packages of dumplings consumed by the 10 people.

Since the news broke, China has reiterated that the dumpling factory, Tianyang Food, is clean and investigators have found no evidence that the gyoza were deliberately laced with a toxic pesticide.

A senior Beijing official said Wednesday it was unlikely they were poisoned on purpose during the manufacturing process.

Wei Chuanzhong, vice minister of the nation’s top agency in charge of quality control issues, said at a news conference that Chinese police are continuing their investigation and plan to cooperate with Japanese authorities as needed.

“There has yet to be a sign of tampering. There are no such clues,” said Wei, who has been in touch with public security authorities in Shijiazhuang in northern Hebei Province investigating the case.

The possibility that the chemical was deliberately mixed in the dumplings or their packages during the manufacturing process is “very small,” he said.

He added, however, that he will not rule out any possibility until all investigations are complete.

Previous reports, however, said at least two gyoza packages confiscated for examination in Japan bore tiny puncture holes.

Ten people have suffered food poisoning in two different prefectures since December after eating dumplings produced by the Chinese company and imported by JT Foods Co., an affiliate of Japan Tobacco Inc.

Japanese police have detected traces of a highly toxic organophosphate pesticide called methamidophos in the cases, and in other dumpling packages in other prefectures.

Wei dismissed as speculation a report that Chinese investigators increasingly suspect that the dumplings were poisoned by a person or people with a grudge against the Chinese producer, saying that only government announcements are accurate.

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