(AFP) – Feb 3, 2008
TOKYO (AFP) — Japanese investigators have found traces of pesticide on more packages of Chinese-made dumplings, police said Sunday as Chinese experts arrived in Tokyo to join a widening food poisoning probe.
The toxic substance was found on the surface of six packages of dumplings in western Japan, a spokesman for Hyogo prefectural police said.
The packages were produced at a factory in China's Hebei province on the same day as one that triggered a nationwide scare here, the spokesman said, adding that police were still checking if the dumplings themselves were also contaminated.
The Japanese government has said 10 people became sick, with one girl still in serious condition, after eating frozen meat dumplings produced at the factory in which high levels of pesticide were detected.
The health ministry said the scare prompted 950 people to seek medical treatment for possible intoxication after eating frozen Chinese-made foods, but only 10 were diagnosed with pesticide poisoning.
Major foodmakers ordered recalls of frozen and other prepared foods thought to have been produced at the Chinese factory as officials warned Beijing that it had to ensure food safety.
China -- Japan's largest trading partner and second biggest supplier of imported food -- has denied Tokyo's allegations that the dumplings themselves contained pesticides.
Japanese police have said they were investigating a report of a small tear in a pack of 20 dumplings that made a family ill, opening up the possibility of deliberate tampering.
A team of Chinese experts arrived in Tokyo on Sunday to join the Japanese probe, officials said.
Japanese media quoted Li Chunfeng, a food safety official leading the delegation, as saying before leaving Beijing that his team would work closely with Japanese officials to probe the matter "objectively and fairly".
"We would like to take concerted action with the Japanese side," Li told reporters at Beijing airport.
The delegation began talks with Japanese officials late Sunday at the Cabinet Office.
"In Japan, the issue of frozen dumplings has turned out to be a social concern," Shigeru Hotta, a Japanese Cabinet Office official, told the opening of the meeting.
"We need measures to get the case under control without any delay," Hotta said. "I think Japan and China must cooperate in proving the cause."
Li replied: "The Chinese government places a great deal of importance on this incident. We would like to express our sympathy to Japanese customers. We want to work together with Japan to investigate the cause."
Talks are scheduled to continue on Monday, government officials said.
The global reputation of China's vital manufacturing industry was seriously damaged last year by a string of overseas safety scandals and product recalls involving the country's export goods.
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