China will send an expert team to Japan on Saturday to help investigate a food poisoning incident involving Chinese-made frozen dumplings, the country's top quality watchdog said.
Team members were from the Commerce Ministry, Certification and Accreditation Administration, Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine and a local entry-exit quarantine bureau, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) said in a statement.
Tests on 30 samples of dumplings and raw materials like flour, cabbage and packages in the factory making the dumplings found no pesticide as alleged in Japan, the administration said.
At least 10 people in Japan fell ill since December after eating dumplings produced by the Tian Yang Food Plant in north China's Hebei Province. The number of victims could be much higher, according to Japanese media reports.
The Japanese authorities found an insecticide called methamidophos in the vomit of the poisoned people and the food packages left at their houses.
But tests showed the rest of the dumplings of the same batches sold in Japan, totaling more than 2,000 packs, were safe, so were all the other products made by the Chinese company, said Wang Daning, an AQSIQ official.
Wang said AQSIQ had ordered the producer of the dumplings to recall all products on the way to Japan immediately. He added that Tian Yang's products were all exported to Japan and not sold in other countries or domestically.
All dumplings and other products made by Tian Yang had already been withdrawn from the Japanese market, he said.
As to the possibility of deliberate poisoning, he said "the investigators of Japan and China have agreed not to release any subjective judgment before a final result comes out."
China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Saturday that the Chinese government "sincerely cares about the poisoned Japanese and hopes that they recover soon".
The ministry will require all exporters to check on product quality more strictly to prevent major incidents caused by quality problems.
The Chinese government has attached great importance to the quality of exports, and remarkable results have been achieved through a national campaign for product quality and food safety that began in August, said the ministry.
Commerce officials issued a circular on Saturday ordering local governments to ensure good quality and stable prices of goods sold in rural regions, especially in snow-stricken areas, during the Spring Festival.
Rural markets must stock up on daily necessities, medicine and heating and lighting equipment, which are desperately needed in disaster areas, the circular said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008)