TOKYO – Ten Japanese were sickened, including a child who fell into a coma, after eating Chinese-made dumplings contaminated with insecticide, police and health officials said Wednesday.
Three people in western Hyogo prefecture (state) and seven in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo suffered severe abdominal pains, vomiting and diarrhea after eating the frozen dumplings imported from China by a Japanese company, the Health Ministry said.
A 5-year-old girl in Chiba regained consciousness after falling into a coma, and her mother, two brothers and a sister were in serious condition, Chiba police official Masaru Hiratsu said.
Investigators found traces of an organic phosphorus insecticide called methamidophos in the dumplings, their containers and the patients' vomit, the ministry said in a statement. Authorities were attempting to determine the source of contamination.
The ministry ordered the dumplings' importer and distributor, JT Foods Co. Ltd. — an affiliate of Japan's largest tobacco company — to recall the product.
The dumplings were imported in November from Chinese manufacturer Hebei Foodstuffs Import & Export Group Tianyang Food Processing, the ministry said.
In Beijing, telephones were not answered at the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which oversees the safety of China's exports. The agency's Web site made no mention of the incident.
Japan's minister in charge of food safety, Fumio Kishida, said the incident prompted "grave concerns" and vowed to take urgent measures, though he did not elaborate.
JT Foods distributed 13 tons of dumplings each in Chiba and Hyogo, the ministry said.
JT Foods voluntarily began recalling the dumplings and 22 other products imported from the Chinese company and dispatched officials to investigate the Chinese plant, JT spokeswoman Yukiko Seto said.
China's exports have come under intense scrutiny in the past year after a number of potentially deadly chemicals were found in goods including toothpaste, toys, pet food and seafood.
China's government launched a four-month campaign last August to improve the quality of Chinese products and restore international confidence in its goods. Officials termed the campaign a success.