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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Japan milk scare spreads
A second dairy giant in Japan has halted milk production after 20 schoolchildren fell sick.

The news comes a week after more than 14,000 people became ill after drinking contaminated milk from Japan's largest dairy Snow Brand.

In the latest scare, about 100 children and teachers complained of a bad smell from bottled milk produced by Morinaga Milk at a factory in western Japan.

Dairy products
Morinaga is Japan's third largest dairy
A Morinaga spokesman said the milk might have been contaminated by a bottle disinfectant.

Officials say two students were treated in hospital after complaining of nausea, but neither was in a serious condition.

Morinaga, the country's third largest milk producer, has now suspended operations at its factory outside Osaka and has started recalling products.

The company's shares took a pounding on Thursday, ending down 11.86% at 327 yen.

Death

Snow Brand's shares have also taken a battering since the country's worst outbreak of food poisoning for 30 years.

About 160 people needed hospital treatment after suffering symptoms including stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Reports said the death of an 84-year-old woman on Wednesday might have been linked to the milk scare.

The cause of the contamination was traced to bacteria in a valve in the production line of its Osaka factory which had not been properly cleaned.

Reports said hygiene regulations at the plant were regularly ignored.

Snow Brand's president Tetsuro Ishikawa resigned last Thursday following the scandal, and the company is reportedly facing criminal charges.

The dairy said on Wednesday it was halting operations at all 21 of its milk factories.

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See also:

01 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Food poisoning outbreak in Japan
06 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan dairy chief quits
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