TOKYO, Jan. 8 (Kyodo) — Masako Mori, state minister for consumer affairs and food safety, said Wednesday the food company whose frozen products were contaminated with a pesticide should not have delayed in disclosing information to customers and reporting the matter to authorities.
"The authorities are unable to act without a report from the company," Mori told Yutaka Tanabe, president of Aqlifoods Co., a subsidiary of Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc.
The food company did not announce the contamination until Dec. 29, although it received complaints in mid-November and detected malathion, an organophosphate commonly used as a pesticide, in the products, on Dec. 27.
"I am very sorry for causing trouble to many people," said Tanabe, who was summoned to the Consumer Affairs Agency by Mori.
Explaining the delay in detecting the chemical, Tanabe said the company initially suspected the involvement of a solvent such as a thinner, according to agency officials.
Meanwhile, a tally by Kyodo News showed Wednesday that at least 1,400 people nationwide have complained of falling sick -- most displaying mild symptoms of vomiting, cramps and diarrhea -- after consuming some of the company's frozen food including croquettes and pizza.