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Biological Health Hazard – Mass Food Poisoning (schoolchildren): Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan


Published Date: 2017-06-08 11:31:55
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Foodborne illness – Japan (03): (IB) school students, milk, RFI
Archive Number: 20170608.5091371

Date: Wed 7 Jun 2017 03:12 pm JST
Source: Japan Today [edited]

Ibaraki prefectural health officials said [Tue 6 Jun 2017] that 379 elementary and junior high school students fell ill on [Mon 5 Jun 2017] after drinking milk provided in their daily school lunches.

According to the officials, around 3700 students at 61 schools in the prefecture complained of a “disinfectant odor” after consuming the milk supplied in their school lunches, Fuji TV reported.

The prefecture’s board of education said that of the 379 students who complained of not feeling well, 2 were taken to hospital after vomiting.

Health officials said the milk came from Ibaraku Co in Mito. They are investigating the company’s plant to try and determine the cause of the bad milk.

Communicated by:
Karyn Bischoff

[Drinking milk which smells of disinfectant must have been nauseating. The article does not tell us how strong the odor was or if it was also distasteful.

We are not told if this milk was drunk from a carton, bottle, or some type of glass supplied by the school. It could have been a disinfectant in a bottle, or perhaps carry over from a tank sterilization at the processing plant. But then the question arises as to why there was a failure of the quality control process at the plant, or at the schools’ dishwashing facilities.

Hopefully the children will recover and the investigation will turn up the truth of these circumstances.- Mod.TG]

[More information on this event would be greatly appreciated – was a contaminant identified? if yes, what type of contaminant? known toxicity of the contaminant? and an epidemiologic investigation into the demographics of the cases, location of the event (were the children all together in the same lunchroom at the same time?), etc. The mention that the students “felt ill” but only 2 were reported to have vomited raises the possibility that this may have been an outbreak of hysteria triggered by either a bad smell or witnessing 2 children vomiting.

Ibaraki is located to the north of Tokyo Japan. Ibaraki Prefecture is the northeastern part of the Kantō region, stretching between Tochigi Prefecture and the Pacific Ocean and bounded on the north and south by Fukushima Prefecture and Chiba Prefecture. It also has a border on the southwest with Saitama Prefecture ( – Mod.MPP]

[Maps of Japan can be seen at and – Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]

See Also

Foodborne illness – Japan (02): (Tokyo area), nori, norovirus 20170302.4874642
Foodborne illness – Japan: (Tokyo area) RFI 20170223.4852615
Foodborne illness – Cambodia: (BA) soy milk, RFI 20170407.4956397

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

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