335,000 inquiries made over tainted frozen food in Japan

JAPAN - About 335,000 inquiries have been made over frozen foods contaminated with the agricultural chemical malathion as of Thursday, Maruha Nichiro Holdings said.

According to Maruha Nichiro's Investor Relations & Public Relations Department, there were about 110,000 inquires made to a toll-free number of Aqlifoods Co., an affiliate of Maruha Nichiro, and elsewhere, on Monday, a day after Maruha Nichiro announced the contamination. There were also about 100,000 inquiries each on Tuesday and Wednesday and about 25,000 on Thursday.

The figures include calls that were not connected to operators, but exclude those made directly to regional offices.

"The actual number of inquiries should be higher," said an official of the public relations department.

Inquiries to Aqlifoods' customer centre can be made at (0120) 690-149 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The frozen foods in which malathion was detected were produced at Aqlifoods' plant in Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture.

Sickness after croquettes

The Tottori prefectural government announced Thursday that a man in his 40s in Tottori has reported that he vomited after eating Aqlifoods' frozen food.

According to the prefectural government, the man ate Torori kon kurimu korokke (creamy corn croquettes) on the evening of Dec. 24 and vomited the next morning. The croquettes had been produced at Aqlifoods' Gunma plant.

The man did not go to the hospital, as he recovered on Dec. 25. He reported the case to the prefectural public health centre on Tuesday after hearing about the contamination on the news.

Whether the croquettes contained malathion is unclear. The man reportedly ate all eight in the package but said they did not taste or smell strange.