Over a dozen elementary schools in central Japan were closed Thursday after more than 900 students fell ill in a suspected mass food poisoning.
The local education board in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture said 14 elementary schools remained shut after 905 pupils complained of suffering from vomiting and diarrhea. About 40 teachers and staff at these schools also showed symptoms of food poisoning.
“Most of them developed such symptoms last night. They had eaten school lunch but any causal relation with the symptoms have yet to be confirmed,” Seiko Terada, director of health and school lunch at the board, told AFP.
Hamamatsu city health official Toshihiko Furuta said that norovirus were detected in several stool samples taken from the affected pupils.
The board noted that the students had eaten lunch in school but has yet to determine whether it was the cause. Officials said they are already inspecting he ingredients stocked in the schools’ kitchens.
The incident came amid a feared outbreak of food poisoning that has affected more than 1,400 people across Japan. The victims fell ill after consuming frozen food products manufactured by Aqli Foods Corp that was found to be tainted with high levels of malathion, a pesticide usually used to fight bug influxes in corn and rice fields.
Maruha Nichiro Holdings, the parent company of Aqli, recalled an estimated 6.4 million food products and issued a warning to customers not to purchase frozen pizza, croquettes and other frozen food.
By Maesie Bertumen