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The BBC's Charles Scanlon in Tokyo
"About eighty people have been treated in hospital"
 real 28k

Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 07:39 GMT 08:39 UK
Food poisoning outbreak in Japan
Japanese officials say that nearly 5,000 people have been affected by a bout of food poisoning after drinking contaminated milk.

Around 80 people needed hospital treatment after suffering symptoms including stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The milk, packaged in paper cartons, came from a factory in Osaka run by the country's largest dairy producer, Snow Brand Milk Products Co.

Health officials have inspected the premises but were unable to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak.

Staphylococcus bacteria

However, a company spokesman said that staphylococcus bacteria were suspected. Test results were expected later on Saturday.

The company said it had halted production at the factory and recalled milk produced between 23 and 28 June.

It said it was considering paying compensation to those affected.

This is the second serious case of food poisoning in western Japan in recent times - four years ago the region suffered an outbreak which killed 11 people.

Correspondents say the outbreak turned into one of the biggest health scandals since World War II, but the government said it had failed to discover how the contamination spread.

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