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57 students suffer food poisoning

23 Comments

Fifty-seven students from a school in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, were hospitalized for food poisoning on Sunday after they became sick at a hotel in Narita.

The students stayed overnight at the hotel after taking part in a marching band contest in Saitama on Saturday, TV Asahi reported. They had dinner at a hotel in Saitama at about 9 p.m. on Saturday before returning to their hotel in Narita.

According to police, the students started complaining of fever and began vomiting at about 8 a.m. Hotel staff called 119 and the students were taken to hospital.

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23 Comments
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Maybe some day Japan will get serious about food safety and have genuine inspectors going around and inspecting restaurants. This is the second mass food poisoning on a school trip this week (well, since it's Sunday and a new week, within a week).

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Mass food poisoning incidents are very common in Japan. I find if very curious that Japanese people always insist that Japan is so safe, clean, and healthy when stories like this appear in the press every few weeks.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

And last week, (the week before?) it was Kyoto. Safety inspections folks, safety inspections! How many people have to get sick and/or die before Japan takes this seriously? Banning raw meat isn't the only issue.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

again?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It surprises me to a large degree that Japanese often talk about food safety in Japan, but these incidents seem to pop up with alarming regularity. It`s like the population suffers from collective amnesia at times.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Why is the hotel being protected? The hotel and their catering service should have their names plastered in the news, to make sure other places get scared that they will lose customers if they don't properly check food .

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Anyone who has lived here long enough KNOWS that food safety is not a priority here in Japan. I was once hospitalized for a couple of days due to severe dehydration caused by food poisoning. It is no laughing matter and I NEVER want to get that sick again.

There was even a TV program that was glorifying nasty, dirty, places that served "great" food. It disgusted the heck out of me, but people here seem not to care, apathetic, because it doesnt concern them.

They are ever so wrong.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My wife worked in a boarding house once and they did all sorts of dodgy tricks to supply the food and the same in supermarkets. They probably have little to no training. Japanese people's understanding of food safety is just down to popular myth and the little their mother taught them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

How many people have to get sick and/or die before Japan takes this seriously? Banning raw meat isn't the only issue.

It's not an issue at all. Raw meat is legal, and some of us are happy to eat it.

You disapprove, but all that means is that you should probably avoid it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I agree, I wish Japan could be a safe country like America,

They have 70 times the number of food poisoning cases per inhabitants of Japan...

Banning raw meat isn't the only issue.

Banning food wouldn't even be enough. They could still get those norovirus or other bad bugs from water or air. Banning people would do the trick. Robots don't get sick.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japan is safe enough for me. Things happen and improvements can be made of course.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It seems to be the lay out of food in large quantity that is the problem. A venue is expecting 300 guests at a large gathering so hundreds of trays of pre-cooked/raw foods are prepared and set out on large tables. There is no heat or refrigeration in the meantime while the group telephones ahead to say they will be late. Then there is the issue of cross-contamination. Wearing plastic gloves does no good at all if the same gloves are dipping into the wrong ingredients back and forth.

As for the supermarket food we choose only the foods prepared by workers behind the glass windows and sealed up in plastic containers. We always steer clear of those selections left out in the open for the public to paw over and sneeze upon. Another place to catch the bug is in those vats of ice in restaurant drink bars where the public is allowed to grab ice in their glass. They are supposed to use the tongs but watch some time and be surprised how it goes. Best to use a dispensing machine instead.

Standards and no-notice inspections would go a long way to preventing large scale outbreaks. My question is who would be the inspectors? Think TEPCO/NEXCO inspections.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just from reading the comments there seems to be some confusion betwen food poisoning and viruses caught through food as a transmission device.(Like the Norwalk Virus)

For a plate of food to be a good enough source of food poisoning, it has to be un-refridgerated for a significant amount of time before the bacteria can build up to levels where they can make someone sick.

Some illnesses like salmonella need an anaerobic environment to even survive (Like a can of food not properly prepared.)

If this was food poisoning instead of Norwalk, that would mean that the preparer served something with faeces in it or used extremely expired ingredientes. Most likeley it was beef with poop in it or it was shellfish out of season or a can of something from a dodgy supplier.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just from reading the comments there seems to be some confusion betwen food poisoning and viruses caught through food as a transmission device.(Like the Norwalk Virus)

The article does not precise. The cause is not identified. Commentators assume it's due to a negligence from the staff. It's a total assumption.

For a plate of food to be a good enough source of food poisoning, it has to be un-refridgerated for a significant amount of time before the bacteria can build up to levels where they can make someone sick.

Totally wrong. Some ingredients are not refrigerated at all and are contaminated before they are prepared. That was the situation about the bean sprout salad case.

As for the supermarket food we choose only the foods prepared by workers behind the glass windows and sealed up in plastic containers.

That's the type of food with the highest risk in the whole supermarket.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think most of you reporting here no nothing about food poisoning and are playing a back seat expert.

I have a license through my prefecture to prepare and serve food. It is a great class and very thorough.

I have seen restaurant owners totally ignoring the correct methods of food prep and serving, only to get their act together when the scheduled inspection comes along.

They need surprise inspections like they do in NY and many other places.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Raw meat is legal

Not all . Some was recently banned because of the deaths of customers at a few places in Japan. By all means, eat away but I hope you know the risks.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Two of our bonenkais ended in mass food poisoning. I wonder if at this time of year, when it's a seller's market, shops are trying to cut corners and get rid of stock.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not all . Some was recently banned because of the deaths of customers at a few places in Japan. By all means, eat away but I hope you know the risks.

Yeah, thanks for the permission.

Perhaps I did express "raw meat is legal" in an unnecessarily complex way. What I meant was not that "all raw meat is legal", but that "raw meat is legal".

I don't believe it is necessary to make it illegal. In many countries -and Japan is only one of them - people eat rare steak, lamb, or duck, steak tartare, raw oysters and other shellfish, raw fish, and cured meats such as salami, which you probably realize is pork that has never been cooked, as are prosciutto and jamon iberico. People who are squeamish about any of those things should obviously stay away from them.

Should they be banned? No.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Raw pork (triconella) and raw chicken is iffy in my opinion ---> once frozen (and not massively contaminated) is ok. -But freezing destroys the taste and quality.

Any sort of meat that has been mechanically tenderized (needled) allows bacteria to get inside and causes issues that surface heat (cooking) may not correct.

People want to eat raw because it is more healthy, but if not truly fresh and of excellent quality -it is not worth getting food poisoning. Local fresh that day is your best bet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

CosDec. 17, 2012 - 05:03AM JST

They have 70 times the number of food poisoning cases per inhabitants of Japan...

Japan has a hell of a lot of under-reporting, and most cases you hear about involve large (6+) groups with catered services (which can be regulated by health inspectors) rather than individuals getting sick from homecooked meals (which can't be regulated)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japan has a hell of a lot of under-reporting...

Fair enough, but what are you basing that on, and what is the actual level of under-reporting compared to other countries?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Perhaps I did express "raw meat is legal" in an unnecessarily complex way. What I meant was not that "all raw meat is legal", but that "raw meat is legal".

Then perhaps that is what you should have said. No need to be snippy with me for your mistake.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Cos: They have 70 times the number of food poisoning cases per inhabitants of Japan

That is an inaccurate statement you appear to be pulling out of thin air. As already stated, reported incidents in Japan and most other nations, especially incidents involving only a handful of people, are likely not reported or not followed up. I have grad degrees in Public Health and Health Science, am certified in US as a Food Safety Instructor and have worked as food safety trainer and inspector for food service companies in US and Japan for a decade. I have seen good and bad food safety practices in Japan: Individually owned shops and smaller urban hotels were among the worst offenders, based on observations as a customer and client. Oyajis wiping their nose and mouth during prep or cooking, or smoking in the kitchen and wiping their utensils on dirty towels attached to their waists while preparing food was a common sight especially, but not restricted to Osaka and surrounding cities to include Okayama.

I have evaluated and trained numerous Japanese who work in restaurants on military bases around Japan and often found them below US standards, until they completed our basic food safety training. However Japanese food service managers on bases and in US-concept restaurants on the economy were much better in their practices. Japanese school food services I have visited were also fairly decent, but my main concern was food safety in their supply chain and lack of documented safeguards, compared to US practices.

The cozy relationships seen between government inspectors and the agriculture, fishing, and nuclear industries in Japan, is probably no different when considering prefectural and local inspectors and the food service entities they must evaluate. This may be due to a less confrontational culture versus Western attitudes, but also a habit of avoiding obvious violations for whatever reasons. Clean kitchens in Japan are not so much the issue as how food is protected and how many workers handle food. IMO, food safety standards in Japan (or any other Asian nation) are not consistently enforced to the same degree as they are in California or most other states in the USA.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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