Japan Briefs China On Food Poisoning Developments

With few clues pointing to how and where the frozen dumplings may have become tainted with a pesticide, Japan dispatched a mission to China to inspect the dumpling factory.

TOKYO (Kyodo) β€” Japanese government representatives briefed their Chinese counterparts in detail Monday about developments in connection with recent food-poisoning incidents in Japan involving Chinese-made frozen dumplings on the second day of bilateral talks in Tokyo, Japanese officials said.
With few clues pointing to how and where the products may have become tainted with a pesticide detected in some such products, Japan dispatched a mission to China on Monday evening with an eye to inspecting the factory where the ''gyoza'' dumplings were made.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, meanwhile, indicated at a parliamentary committee session that the government will consider reinforcing its quarantine on food and other imports as part of efforts to prevent a recurrence of such incidents.
At a House of Councillors Budget Committee session, Fukuda noted that food imports to Japan have been on the rise in recent years and emphasized the importance of taking measures to check such products at the waterfront.
''We need to look at every means to enhance human resources when we think about the future of our country,'' Fukuda said, referring to the necessity to enhance Japan's quarantine system.
Near the Diet building, representatives from the Japanese and Chinese governments met for discussions for a good part of the day Monday, with most of the time spent on the Japanese side explaining how the food-poisoning incidents came to light and how the government has dealt with them, the officials said.
The move served to clarify the information the Chinese team possessed, as they appeared to be a mix of Japanese government announcements, media reports and data from other sources, the officials said.
The Chinese asked for a sample of dumpling from which an organophosphate pesticide called methamidophos was detected, but the Japanese responded that was impossible because the products are being held by the police as investigation material, they said.
The two countries held their first round of talks Sunday evening when they managed only to reaffirm their intentions to cooperate in identifying the cause of the food poisoning as soon as possible.
The five-member team from China β€” led by Li Chunfeng, vice director of the Import and Export Food Safety Bureau in the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the national quality control bureau β€” arrived in Japan on Sunday.
The Japanese team in the Tokyo talks are made up of representatives from the Cabinet Office, the National Police Agency, the Foreign Ministry, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.
The officials said the two countries have not yet decided the schedule for Tuesday onward, including whether they will continue their talks, amid other developments such as Japan's dispatching of its own mission to China.
In the evening, Fukuda told reporters at his office he hopes the Japanese mission will conduct substantive investigations so that it will be able to shed light on the cause of the food-poisoning incidents.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said earlier in the day the four-member Japanese mission plans to inspect places such as the factory where the products in question were made and meet with Chinese officials supervising the manufacturing process, although its itinerary is not yet set.
''We have not yet decided on the duration of their stay, as we want to determine that based on the situation'' in China, the top Japanese government spokesman told a press conference.
The members of the mission are a representative each from the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Ministry, the health ministry and the farm ministry, according to government officials.
''We are finding out various facts little by little, but we do not yet know much when it comes to the key point of finding out the cause,'' Machimura said.
In the food-poisoning incidents in Japan, methamidophos was found in gyoza made by Tianyang Food in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province.
A Japanese official said the products arrived in Japan by way of Tianjin port, but it remains unclear at which point they may have been tainted by the pesticide.
Machimura said the number of people the government has confirmed as having suffered food poisoning due to the dumplings remains at 10, while more than 2,000 people have made inquiries to local public health offices over concerns related to such food products.
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