Japan Thousands Sick in Food Poisoning Scare (Milk)

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Fri Jun 30, 12:47 pm

Thousands Sick in Japanese Food Poisoning Scare

More than 3,000 people have fallen sick with suspected poisoning in Japan after drinking low-fat milk from the country's biggest dairy product maker, Kyodo news agency said Friday. The victims were displaying symptoms of food poisoning, including vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains after drinking milk produced by Snow Brand Milk Products Co Ltd, officials in the western city of Osaka said.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), June 30, 2000



Tainted Milk Found in Japan

TOKYO (AP) -- Health authorities on Sunday detected germs in lowfat milk that sickened at least 6,855 people and ordered the manufacturing plant to suspend production indefinitely, an official said.

The staphlococcus bacteria turned up in tests conducted on the tainted milk, said Teruo Danno, an official of the Osaka prefectural government's food sanitation department.

staphlococcus can cause diarrhea and vomiting in people with a weakened immune system, but is usually not lethal.

Officials ordered Snow Brand Milk Products Co. to halt production at its Osaka plant until safety was ensured, said Osamu Yamanaka, a spokesman for the Osaka government.

Snow Brand admitted Saturday that bacteria accumulating in a production-line valve probably contaminated the milk.

Of the 6,855 people sickened so far, 41 were being treated in the hospital, Danno said.

He said the plant was producing 50,000 liters of lowfat milk daily and marketing the milk in Osaka, 255 miles west of Tokyo, and its neighboring areas.

AP-NY-07-02-00 0759EDT< 

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), July 02, 2000.

Thu, 06 Jul 2000, 10:40pm EDT Snow Shuts Tokyo Milk Plant After Osaka Tainting (Update1) By Tomoko Yamazaki

Tokyo, July 7 (Bloomberg) -- Snow Brand Milk Products Co., Japan's biggest dairy products maker, said it shut a Tokyo factory as a precaution after thousands of people became ill from bacteria- contaminated milk from one of its plants in Osaka.

There have been no reports of sickness caused by milk from the Tokyo facility, where one of its three milk tanks didn't have a cleaning record, the company said.

Yesterday's closure will probably affect profit significantly, the company said, without elaborating.

``It is almost certain that the company will report a parent net loss'' for the year ending March 2001, said Shuichi Shibanuma, an analyst at Merrill Lynch Japan Inc., who rates the stock ``near- term neutral.''

The key for the company's plan to regain consumers' trust is whether its new management team can rebuilt the relationship with supermarkets, convenience stores and other mass retailers, Shibanuma says. Snow's president and three other senior executives have said they'll resign to take responsibility for the Osaka contamination incident.

``The company made a very good decision on choosing the new president,'' said Shibanuma. ``If contamination is found (at the Tokyo factory) it is a different story, but as long as the new president regains trust from retailers, they may return to profitability in the next period.''

The Tokyo-based yesterday said its President Tetsuro Ishikawa would resign at the end of September, and will be replaced by Kouhei Nishi, a managing director for the company.

Osaka officials yesterday confirmed that 12,027 people in the Osaka and Hiroshima areas of western Japan had become ill after drinking milk from the Osaka plant.

The incident could become Japan's biggest food-poisoning case since officials began keeping records in 1975, said Megumi Sato, an official in the milk and meat sanitation section of Japan's Ministry of Health and Welfare. Not all of the illnesses have yet been confirmed as food poisoning.

Snow Brand shares fell as much as 30 yen, or 7.4 percent, to 375, and were the most actively traded stock by volume with 9.5 million shares changing hands. Yesterday the stock dropped 70 yen, or 15 percent, to 405 yen, its biggest one-day decline in at least 16 years. The stock has plunged 25 percent in three days. The stock recently traded at 391 yen

http://quote.bloomberg.com/fgcgi.cgi?ptitle=Top%20World% 20News&s1=blk&tp=ad_topright_topworld&T=markets_bfgcgi_content99.ht&s2 =blk&bt=blk&s=AOWU8AxRkU25vdyBT

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 06, 2000.

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