Over 350 fall sick in Japan after eating tainted food

Updated 08 January 2014
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Over 350 fall sick in Japan after eating tainted food

TOKYO: More than 350 people across Japan have fallen ill after eating pesticide-contaminated frozen food produced by the nation’s largest seafood firm, national broadcaster NHK said Tuesday.
People have reported vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms of food poisoning after eating products including pizza and lasagne made by a subsidiary of Maruha Nichiro Holdings, according to surveys carried out by NHK and local media.
Police began investigating the company last month after it revealed that some of its frozen food had been tainted with malathion, an agricultural chemical often used to kill aphids in corn and rice fields.
NHK said that 359 people had become ill, while the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said it found the number of people who fell sick “exceeded 300.”
Maruha Nichiro said that it had received about 460,000 phone calls from consumers in connection with the incident, including complaints from customers who ate the tainted products and some reporting an unusual odor, a company spokesman said.
According to local media, police suspect the pesticide was mixed into products at the plant in Gunma, north of Tokyo.
The food maker has recalled 6.4 million potentially tainted products, with 1.2 million packages recovered so far, it said.
Maruha Nichiro said that the products in question had not been shipped overseas.
The spokesman declined to comment on how the incident may affect the company’s earnings, saying only: “We have to specify the cause first.”
Separately, Japan’s leading bread maker Pasco Shikishima Corp. was to recall about 445,000 packages of sweets after complaints that they had a strong chlorine smell, Jiji Press reported Tuesday.
A company spokesperson was not immediately available to confirm the report.
While incidents of food poisoning have occurred in Japan, including in August 2012 when cabbage contaminated with E. coli bacteria killed seven people and sickened dozens, food standards are relatively high.
However, the country’s reputation for safe and high quality food suffered a body-blow from the after-effects of the Fukushima atomic disaster, in which acres of farmland were polluted by nuclear fall-out.


India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 36 sec ago
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India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

  • Afghan, Indian leaders “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership”
  • The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

NEW DELHI: India and Afghanistan reviewed bilateral civil and military cooperation during a one day of meetings in  New Delhi on Wednesday.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which the two sides “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership.”

A press release from the Indian Prime Minister’s office announced after the meeting: “It was agreed to deepen the New Development Partnership in the areas of high impact projects in this field of infrastructure, human resources development and other capacity-building projects in Afghanistan.” 

 The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

 “I would like to thank the Indian people for their commitment to Afghanistan's future,” Ghani said in a speech in New Delhi before leaving for Kabul.

“What India-Afghanistan share is deep and binding trust in democratic institutions,” he added.

Modi supported an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process” and pledged “India's unwavering commitment to support the efforts of the government of Afghanistan to this end, as also for the security and sovereignty of Afghanistan.”

 “Peace with the Taliban is important so that we can concentrate on counter-terrorism. The Taliban is part of Afghan society, ISIS (using another term for the terror group Daesh) is not. We must make that distinction,” Ghani said in his address at the New Delhi-based think tank, India Foundation.

 Commenting on Ghani’s visit, Vishal Chandra of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), a New Delhi-based think tank, said: “The timing of the visit is significant; he has come at a time when the Afghan forces are under great pressure from the Taliban and Daesh.” He added that Ghani was looking for wider regional support in initiatives to stem the rising tide of terrorism.

Talking to Arab News, Chandra underlined that “there is no question of India involving itself militarily in Afghanistan, but it might step up its efforts to ensure that they have better air capability and they don’t have shortage of ammunition. I don’t expect India to supply heavy weaponry.”

Harsh V. Pant, director of the think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) said: “Despite India scaling up its presence in the defence sector, New Delhi’s military presence in Afghanistan is limited.

“The appetite in India for military involvement is very small; there is no consensus about the military footprints New Delhi should have in Afghanistan. But there is a consensus that New Delhi’s security cooperation with Kabul should be extended and should be robust and that is what India is doing.” 

In his book “India’s Afghanistan Muddle” Pant argued that “India cannot evolve its equity in Afghanistan unless some form of military involvement happens.”

Pant told Arab News: “The visit of Ghani at this time is a sign of a certain maturity in the relationship where Afghanistan feels that India should be kept in a loop. The relationship has grown to an extent that two sides are comfortable with each other in sharing assessment about where the political trajectory is going.”