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Maruha Cuts Food Production as Demand Drops After Contamination

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc.’s frozen foods unit said it’s cutting production at a factory in Yubari, northern Japan, as consumers shun its brands following the discovery of pesticide in products made at a separate plant.

The company is reducing operations in Yubari after shutting down the facility where the contaminated products were made, said Mizuki Nagaoka, a spokeswoman for the frozen foods unit, Aqli Foods Corp. She declined to say how much the company was reducing production.

Japan police have been questioning about 300 employees of the packaged-food maker after hundreds of people were sickened as pesticide contamination at 2.6 million times permitted levels was found in frozen croquettes. Aqli is reducing production at its Yubari factory by 30 percent, the Nikkei newspaper reported earlier.

Food from the company’s factory in Gunma prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, sickened at least 890 people in Japan and was found to contain the pesticide malathion, public broadcaster NHK reported last week.

Maruha Nichiro is recalling about 6.4 million bags of frozen foods after finding the pesticide in products including croquettes, frozen pizza and chicken nuggets, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement Dec. 29. The company had received 52 percent of the recalled products as of Jan. 10, according to its website.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Cooper in Tokyo at ccooper1@bloomberg.net; Hideki Asai in Tokyo at hasai@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stanley James at sjames8@bloomberg.net

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