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E. coli-tainted Cabbage Kills Six in Japan

Sapporo, Japan news services report that four people, including a 4-year-old girl, have been confirmed dead of food poisoning from pickled Chinese cabbage produced by a Sapporo food company. Another two are suspected to have died due to the cabbage.

According to the city health care center, four people have died because of the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria after eating pickled Chinese cabbage produced in late July by Iwai Shokuhin. Three of the four victims were women in their 80s and 100s living in elderly care facilities in the city.

Four-year-old girl Ayana Matsumura of Sapporo suffered symptoms from Aug. 6 and died last Saturday. The O157 strain discovered in her body was found to be the same strain detected in the cabbage. According to information relayed to the city by her family, she is very likely to have eaten cabbage bought at a supermarket near her house.

The two whose poisoning has yet to be confirmed are women in their 90s who were living in an elderly care facility in the jurisdiction of the prefectural Ebetsu Health Center. They ate the cabbage on Aug. 1, and were hospitalized after developing symptoms such as stomachaches and diarrhea on Aug. 5 and 6. They died of hemolytic-uremic syndrome on Thursday.

Though the O157 strain has not been detected in the two women yet, they lived in an elderly facility where mass food poisoning occurred.

The food firm’s president, Norio Iwai, expressed deep regret. “I feel deeply about (the incident) and will do my best to help investigations. I can only say I’m truly sorry,” he said.