BEIJING (Kyodo) — A senior Chinese quality control official said Wednesday that Chinese-made frozen meat dumplings that made people sick in Japan may have been poisoned on purpose by those who do not wish to see good relations between the two countries.
''A small group which does not wish for the development of Sino-Japanese friendship may have taken extreme measures,'' Wei Chuanzhong, vice minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, told a Japanese government team visiting China.
The possibility of a harmful pesticide, the cause of the incidents, having been mixed in the manufacturing process in a factory in Hebei Province was ''extremely small,'' Wei said at the outset of the meeting with the team which was open to the media.
Ten people have fallen ill in two different areas in Japan due to pesticide-induced food poisoning.
Japanese investigators have said they found high levels of a pesticide called methamidophos in the dumplings the people consumed. The dumplings were made by Tianyang Food in Hebei Province.
Japanese police are looking into the possibility the chemical was deliberately injected into the dumpling packages.
In Japan, the pesticide is not registered as an agricultural chemical allowed for use. China banned its use at the beginning of this year.
The four-member Japanese team led by Taiji Harashima, head of the Cabinet Office's Consumer Policy Division, has been in China since Monday evening on a fact-finding mission.
The team visited the factory in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, which produced the dumplings from Tuesday to Wednesday and also met with local quality control officials.
''The factory was clean and well-kept, and we did not find any problems during our tour,'' Harashima said early Wednesday.
Another type of pesticide, meanwhile, has been detected in dumplings made for sale in Japan by Tianyang Food, a Japanese distributor of the dumplings said Tuesday. Dumplings produced by the company on June 3 last year contained organophosphate pesticide called dichlorvos but there have been no reports of health problems due to the pesticide, according to the distributor.
Wang Daning, head of the Import and Export Food Safety Bureau at the Chinese quality control agency, said Wednesday that a probe into samples of the dumplings produced June 3 showed no trace of dichlorvos.