Contaminated pickled cabbage in northern Japan has killed at least six people and sickened at least 100, health officials said Sunday.
The cabbage, a popular dish in Japan, is contaminated with E. coli bacteria, and was made in late July by two local producers in Sapporo, according to officials in Hokkaido.
The first incident of sickness was reported 10 days ago, the Associated Press reported.
"It is not easy to determine how the bacteria were mixed with the pickles," said heath official Seiichi Miyahara, the Bangkok Post reported. "We don't know yet whether there was any major problem in sanitary control at the company."
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Residents at nine nursing homes in Sapporo and elsewhere in Hokkaido are the majority of the affected population: so far, five women in their 80s to 100s have died, according to Japanese news source Asahi Shimbun.
On August 11, a 4-year-old girl from Sapporo also died in connection to the cabbage.
The deaths have shocked the country, especially because most previous cases of food poisoning in Japan the past have involved meat or seafood, the United Kingdom Press Association reported.
Officials are currently investigating the manufacturers, but suspect insufficient sterilization may be to blame, according to the UKPA.