Food Poisoning Scandal Led to an Arrest


A food poisoning scandal that occurred on Saturday led to an arrest. Japanese police arrested a factory worker at a plant that blended food laced with pesticides. As a result, it led to massive poisoning and recalled about six million packages of frozen food. Police have identified the suspect as Toshiki Abe, a worker of Maruha Nichiro Holdings, Inc. When questioned about lacing food with poison, Abe denied the charges.

Reports state approximately 2,800 people in Japan have been sickened by the contaminated food, which included pancakes, pizzas and chicken nuggets manufactured at the plant near Tokyo. Abe is charged with lacing food with poison over four times in October. According to Kyodo News, malathion, a pesticide used was found in Abe’s possession.

Maruha Nichiro announced executive pay cuts and stated President Toshio Kushiro and president of the subsidiary were going to resign soon to take liability for the food poisoning. The Tokyo manufacturer repeatedly apologized and purchased full-ads in newspapers to further ask pardon of the situation, and warned people not to eat any of the likely tainted food. Life-threatening illnesses have not been reported from consuming Maruha’s food products, but public trust in food safety is shaken.

Malathion is a pesticide used for farming and gardening. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, if malathion is consumed in large quantities it leads to death. Malathion was used in the food poisoning scandal at a food plant near Tokyo, which led to an arrest and resulted in thousands of people being sick. Sources have not reported any other details.

The purpose of malathion is to kill insects on stored products, agricultural crops, in homes, on golf courses and in outdoor sites where trees and shrubs are grown at home. Malathion is also used to kill mosquitoes and Mediterranean fruit flies. This pesticide can also be used to kill fleas and treat head lice on humans. Malathion is usually sprayed on crops over wide land areas. The pesticide comes in two forms:  a colorless liquid in pure form and technical-grade solution, which contains 90 percent malathion and solvent impurities.

Not only can malathion enter the human body by eating contaminated food, but humans can also breathe in air tainted with the pesticide. Once a person is exposed to the harmful poison, it quickly enters the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, malathion can go to many organs and tissues. Most of the poison is broken down in the liver into metabolites. One of the metabolites is more harmful than malathion. The substances do not accumulate inside the body; rather they leave in the urine within a few days.

A person eating food laced with malathion can experience interference of normal functions of the nervous system. Exposure to high amounts of malathion can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting, chest tightness, diarrhea, cramps, blurred vision, watery eyes, sweating, salivation, dizziness, headaches, loss of consciousness and death. If people are exposed to only low amounts of malathion, then they will hardly experience any symptoms.

An incident of food poisoning in Japan led police to arrest one person for committing a scandal. Sources have not indicated the motive for Abe to lace food with malathion.

By Bridget Cunningham

USA Today
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Web MD