China Launches Investigation Into Tainted Dumplings

China on Thursday said it had stopped production at and exports from a company whose insecticide-tainted frozen dumplings sickened 10 people in Japan, in the latest crisis to rock China's food export business.

Officials from China's export safety watchdog said a "speedy investigation" was being conducted into products from Tianyang Food Processing.

"We are very concerned about the health of the Japanese consumers and we hope that they will make an early recovery," said Liu Deping, spokesman for the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Liu said the company has been stopped from producing, selling and exporting its goods. A recall has also been issued for its products.

Telephone calls to Tianyang, based in the northern city of Jinzhou, and its parent company, Hebei Foodstuffs Import & Export Group, were not answered.

China's reputation as an exporter has taken a beating in the past year following the discovery of dangerous chemicals tainting products from toothpaste to toys to a pet food ingredient. Amid repeated product recalls, China announced a series of measures to boost supervision. Officials declared a four-month quality and safety campaign that ended in December a success.

With the Beijing Olympic Games less than 200 days away, authorities have pledged rigorous measures to ensure safe food supplies, even unveiling an Olympic Food Safety Command Center to deal with food emergencies.

"I'm afraid there was a rather loose safety awareness on the Chinese side," Japanese government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura told reporters on Thursday. "Now the problems have occurred, we urge China to closely investigate what exactly is going on."

Officials from the Chinese watchdog said the problems involved batches of dumplings made on Oct. 1 and Oct. 20, but that inspections so far showed no problems.

"We've examined these two batches and have not found any problems," said Wang Daning, head of the administration's import and export food safety department.

He said Japanese health officials found problems only in the dumplings where people got sick, but not in other dumplings from the same batches.

The dumplings were contaminated with traces of an organic phosphorus insecticide called methamidophos, which caused severe abdominal pains, vomiting and diarrhea, Japanese officials said.

Three people in Hyogo and seven in Chiba, near Tokyo, were sickened, some of them seriously, including a 5-year-old girl who regained consciousness after falling into a coma, the ministry said.