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Pesticide-tainted rice from China sold for human consumption in Japan

Posted by Author on September 6, 2008

Mainichi Daily News, Japan, Sep. 6, 2008-

OSAKA — Wholesale rice processing firm Mikasa Foods sold around 300 tons of rice that was not supposed to be used as food due to problems such as excessive chemical levels, allowing it to be used for human consumption, it has been learned.

The rice came from about 1,800 tons that Mikasa Foods bought from the government starting in fiscal 2003. Included was Chinese rice that contained excessive levels of the pesticide methamidophos.

The rice was processed at a factory in Fukuoka Prefecture, and part of it is believed to have been used to produce shochu liquor.

So far no known health problems have resulted from consumption of the rice, but the company is recalling products. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries ordered the company Friday to recall the rice. In the near future, the ministry plans to report the company to Osaka and Fukuoka prefectural police on suspicion of violating the Food Sanitation Law.

Ministry officials said that between fiscal 2003 and the current financial year, Mikasa Foods bought 1,779 tons of inedible rice from the government, ostensibly to be ground up and used in industrial glue and other products. However, in actual fact some of the rice was sold to intermediary dealers and shochu manufacturers in Saga and Kagoshima Prefectures.

The sold rice included about 295 tons produced in China that contained the pesticide methamidophos, and three tons from Vietnam and other areas tainted with the natural carcinogen aflatoxin B1. Japan had bought the rice under World Trade Organization minimum-access regulations, which set a minimum level for imports.

At the end of August, the ministry received an anonymous report that inedible rice was illicitly circulating in Japan, and the ministry launched an investigation. It found that in fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2007, Mikasa Foods bought about 800 tons of rice from China that was found to contain 0.05 parts per million of methamidophos, exceeding the safety standard of 0.01 parts per million. Of this, 295 tons was confirmed to have been sold for consumption.

In addition, about three tons of Vietnamese rice with an aflatoxin B1 level of 0.02 parts per million was bought in fiscal 2004. This was sold to three shochu manufacturers, including one in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The ministry is still investigating what kind of processing firms the rice was passed on to besides those producing shochu.

Methamidophos was confirmed to exist in Chinese-made frozen dumplings sold in Japan in a recent poisoning case, with the level in one case 100,000 times the accepted standard. Aflatoxin B1 is produced from a type of Aspergillus mold, and said to be the strongest natural carcinogen.

– Original: Mainichi Daily News

One Response to “Pesticide-tainted rice from China sold for human consumption in Japan”

  1. […] wholesaler, which sold Chinese imported “industrial-use” rice unfit for human consumption [the rice contained excessive levels of the pesticide methamidophos] to food manufacturers, will fire its entire workforce of about 100 employees because of fallout […]

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