Contaminated frozen foods not part of DOD supply chain

by Fleet Activities,
Yokosuka Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Press reports indicate that as of Jan. 7, 2014 more than 1,000 people across Japan have been sickened, presumably due to consumption of contaminated food products. Products include frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, and croquettes, produced by Aqlifoods Company, a subsidiary of Maruha Nichiro Holdings.

Maruha Nichiro issued a recall of 6.4 million frozen food items on Dec. 29, 2013, but as of Jan. 4 less than 20 percent had been recovered. Food products were reportedly contaminated with high levels of the chemical malathion. Malathion is an organophosphate pesticide commonly used for agricultural applications and to treat head lice on humans, as well as fleas on pets. According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to high amounts of malathion most commonly leads to vomiting, cramps, difficulty breathing, headaches, and dizziness.

The implicated products have not been imported into the U.S. and are not sold on military installations in Japan, either in the Department of Defense supply chain or local national establishments, but individuals may have purchased products from off-post retail stores.

Military healthcare providers in the region should consider potential poisoning among beneficiaries reporting symptoms consistent with malathion ingestion.

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