Published: Saturday 31 August 1996

Alarmed and feeling helpless, Japan is seeking external help for containing the food poisoning crisis which has till now claimed seven lives and affected nearly 6,400 people (Down To Earth Vol 5, No 6). The culprit is believed to be the o-157 colon bacteria. Most of the victims are school children from Sakai near Osaka. The 13-day old outbreak in Sakai was found to have spread through school lunches prepared by city-run kitchens, but the source and the route of infection are yet to be traced. According to a health ministry spokesperson, Japan is seeking expert help from the us Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The ministry has also planned to invoke a special clause in the food sanitation law that would require all food firms to give details of the sources of raw food.Meanwhile, the education ministry has approved a crash research programme on the o-157 strain.

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