Woman in India ‘kills party guests with poisoned food because they ridiculed her cooking’

Pradnya Survase, of Khalapur, faces the death penalty after five guests died at the feast in Mahad, in Raigad district, on June 18. Police said Survase intended to kill her husband, her mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, along with her mother-in-law’s sister and her husband after they ‘regularly insulted’ her complexion and cooking.

Pradnya Survase is alleged to have poisoned family members with pesticides in dal. According to authorities, Survase allegedly mixed snake poison into a container of dal that was then served to guests, which left 88 people in hospital and led to the deaths of five.

Vishwajeet Kaingade, senior police inspector of Khalapur police station, told the Hindustan Times: ‘Pradnya claims that since her marriage two years ago, she has been insulted regularly for her dark complexion and accused of not being able to cook well.’ Survase, divorced from her first husband, also believes relatives had damaged her second marriage. She is alleged to have served poisoned dal to the guests. Around 120 people were invited to the housewarming and a village cook prepared food which was served from 2.30pm until 11.30pm. But those who ate later in the day began complaining of nausea, vomiting and stomach ache just a few hours later. The newspaper reports that 88 people were hospitalised and four children, aged between seven and 13, died along with 53-year-old Gopinath Nakure, two of whom were related to Survase. Vilash Thikrey, a 13-year-old who survived the poisoning, remembers the dal tasting ‘bitter’. 

It’s a bad day when your office is raided: Belgian food safety agency edition

In July 2017 Belgian food safety authorities publicly released information about a pesticide, fipronil, found in eggs leading to millions of eggs recalled.

The announcement came a month after the government knew about it.

‘Food safety recalls are always either too early or too late. If you’re right, it’s always too late. If you’re wrong, it’s always too early.’

That’s what Paul Mead was quoted as saying in response to when to go public with outbreak information over a decade ago. 

During foodborne illness outbreaks and incidents information is evolving – what people know, and when the share it can impact public health, and buyer decisions. Go public too late and stuff remains on the market. Go public too early risks making a wrong decision.

Doug, Sol Erdozian and I wrote a paper in the Journal of Environmental Health where we look at how to go public with food safety info.

There’s no magic answer; just have a plan and a set of criteria to look at when making the decision of what to share when. Talk about uncertainty. And don’t make it up on the fly.

And be prepared for folks to look for what you knew, when you knew it, and what you did about it after.

Like what happened in Belgium today. According to Reuters, FASFC had a visit from government prosecutors.

Belgian prosecutors said on Tuesday they had raided the premises of the country’s food safety agency over an insecticide scandal in eggs that rattled European consumers last summer.

“The judicial investigation concerns the spreading of false information about the fipronil contamination in eggs in 2017,” prosecutors said in a statement, adding the investigation was ongoing.

Last summer, German authorities blamed their Belgian counterparts for not communicating sooner about a possible fipronil contamination. Belgium’s farm minister denied the accusations at the time.

‘Revenge candy’ killed dozens in Pakistan

A Pakistani candy shop owner has confessed to fatally poisoning at least 30 people by lacing his goods with pesticide in an attempt to take revenge on his older brother, police told AFP Friday.

revenge.candyKhalid Mehmood confessed in a court in central Punjab province that he had poisoned the candy after his elder brother Tariq, who owned the candy shop with him, “insulted and abused” him in a business dispute.

“I wanted to teach him a lesson,” police investigator Mohammad Afzal quoted him as saying, with the statement confirmed by another senior police official.

“I was so angry that I mixed the pesticides bottle in the sweets being baked at that time.”

The poisoned batch of candy were bought by a local man who gave them to family and friends celebrating the birth of his grandson.

33 dead after eating insecticide on sweets in Pakistan

Some 33 people including five children have now died in central Pakistan after eating sweets accidentally tainted with insecticide, officials said Sunday.

pakistansweetsgettyimages-471166594The mass poisoning occurred in the Karor Lal Esan area of Punjab province last month.

“The death toll from poisonous sweets has risen to 33 and 13 other victims are still in hospital,” district police chief Muhammad Ali Zia told AFP.

Local resident Umar Hayat bought the baked confectionery on April 17 to distribute among friends and family to celebrate the birth of his grandson.

Police were investigating how the chemicals were introduced into the sweets preparation process, he said.

Police last week said the worker may have inadvertently added pesticide to the sweet mix since there was a pesticide shop close by which was being renovated, and the owner had left his products at the bakery for safe keeping.

Indian state makes food safety a priority, conducts raids

As many as 1,766 food safety raids have been carried out across Kerala and nine shops have been closed for selling adulterated food articles during Onam season, Health Minister V S Sivakumar said. 

keralaThe drives were conducted as part of ‘Operation Ruchi,’ the state-wide food safety initiative launched by the Health Department to restrict the use of chemicals and other harmful ingredients in food articles. Sivakumar said the initiative was a big success during Onam season and raids would be continued in the coming days.

“A total of 1,766 raids have been carried out under the drive during Onam period. Raids are continuing at eateries, vegetable stalls and check posts,” he said here.  The minister said the government’s efforts to ensure the availability of unadulterated food articles, complying with the food safety standards, during the festival season met with success.

Over 2800 sickened; Japan food safety badly shaken by in-company poisoning of food

With over 2,800 sick from deliberate poisoning with a pesticide at a Japanese frozen food manufacturers, the presidents of the firm did the only honorable thing: fall on their swords.

A 49-year-old contract worker at the plant where frozen food was laced with the agricultural chemical malathion has been arrested by the Gunma saturday-night-live-rye-by-the-sword1prefectural police on suspicion of obstructing business. The suspect worked at the Gunma plant of Aqli Foods Corp., a subsidiary of leading food maker Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc.

The man is suspected of lacing frozen food produced at the plant with malathion on four occasions in October. About 2,800 people across the country have complained of feeling ill after eating pizza and other frozen food produced at the plant.

The presidents of Maruha Nichiro Holdings and Aqli Foods have announced they will resign at the end of March to take responsibility for the latest incident.

The companies failed to respond promptly, taking 1½ months to launch a self-imposed recall of products after receiving a complaint in November of an odd odor from pizza manufactured at the plant. 

2800 sick; man arrested over Japan food poisoning

Japanese police have arrested a factory worker for allegedly poisoning frozen food with pesticides, in a case that sickened more than 2,800 people across the nation, news reports say.

Gunma Police Department arrested the 49-year-old man, identified as Toshiki Abe, who works at a frozen food factory in Gunma, north of Tokyo, run by a subsidiary of Maruha Nichiro Holdings, Japan’s largest seafood firm, according to public broadcaster NHK and other local media.

The suspect denied the allegations, while the motive behind the alleged crime was still unknown, NHK reported.

Local police officials declined to comment.

The subsidiary, Aqlifoods, received the first of a series of complaints in November, with a customer saying its frozen pizza smelled like machine Aqlifoods.pizzaoil.

But the firm did not announce a product recall until December 29, after tests found traces of a chemical called malathion, which is used as a pesticide and to treat head lice.

300 sick from pesticide in frozen food in Japan

More than 300 people across Japan have fallen ill after eating frozen food products contaminated with pesticide.

Shoppers have reported vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms of food poisoning after eating food produced at a plant in Gunma, north of Tokyo, according to surveys carried Maruha Nichiroout by the Asahi Shimbun and other local media.

The plant, run by a subsidiary of the nation’s largest seafood firm Maruha Nichiro Holdings, is at the centre of the nation’s latest food poisoning scandal.

Japanese police have launched an investigation into the company after it revealed last month that some of its frozen food products were tainted with malathion, an agricultural chemical often used to kill aphid in corn and rice fields.

Dirty dozen food warnings are simplistic and suck

It’s end-of-year, so lists are big, and I’m fond of my Top-5 Records label list.

But some are just dumb, and it’s good to see the science types in New Zealand calling out some BS.

The Dominion Post reports tomorrow that toxicologists have accused a food safety campaigner of a lack of understanding after she advised people to eat organic celery to avoid pesticides.

Alison White has ranked celery at the top of a list of foods likely to contain pesticide residue, but scientists say that does not mean indulging in the vegetable will cause any harm.

Ms White, who is a researcher and co-convenor of the Safe Food Campaign, said consumers wanted information about whether their food contained pesticide residues.

Canterbury University toxicology professor Ian Shaw said Ms White’s table, which she published on the group’s website, displayed "naughtiness" in referencing research about cancer risks among people who sprayed vegetables, not those who ate them.

Ms White’s comments also showed she did not understand the difference between how dangerous a chemical was, and the actual chance or risk of it causing any harm.

The Food Safety Authority’s principal toxicology adviser, John Reeve, dismissed Ms White’s suggestion that pesticide residues could be making our food unsafe.

"Alison White and her colleagues have no expertise in toxicology and don’t understand the science."

Dr Reeve said pesticide limits were determined by how much of a chemical growers needed for it to work.

That limit was hundreds of times lower than the levels that would have any impact on human health, he said.

Pesticides, risk and regulation – Health Canada gets this message right

When Amy and I were in Guelph, Ontario a few weeks ago, she aksed, “what’s with all the dandelions.”

I tried to explain how municipalities, and now the province of Ontario, were proposing bans on the so-called cosmetic use of pesticides, even if the use of such chemicals had been declared safe by scientists working for the federal government.

I have no intention of getting wound up in the pros, cons or otherwise of chemical use. But what has been absent in the public discussion of various risks is the voice of the government regulator, which can lead to the creation of an information vacuum, which can lead to all kinds of erroneous information amplified through various social media. It’s a well-documented phenomena, and I co-authored a 1997 book about it, Mad Cows and Mother’s Milk.

So it was an unexpected surprise when Richard Aucoin, acting executive director of Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency, penned a lucid, articulate, and well-thought out letter which appeared in the Ottawa Citizen.

“Health Canada’s priorities are the health and safety of Canadians and their food supply, and this primary mandate is applied when approving pesticides for use in Canada.

Under the Pest Control Products Act, if a pesticide (herbicide, insecticide, fungicide) meets our stringent health and environmental safety standards and proves value in its application, it must be approved for use. Only those products that meet Canada’s strict health and safety standards are registered for sale and use in Canada.

When determining if a pesticide can be used in Canada, Health Canada conducts extensive health and environmental scientific reviews.

Testing methods must have adhered to accepted international standards. The evaluation takes into account the available scientific information on potential health and environmental effects from publicly available studies including epidemiological and incident reports both nationally and internationally.

Health Canada employs over 300 qualified scientists dedicated to the evaluation of pesticides, many of whom have doctorates and masters credentials in the fields of human health sciences, environmental and agricultural sciences. This team carefully scrutinizes the scientific information available on all of the components of a product, including both the active and non-active ingredients.

In addition, before Health Canada makes a final decision on whether to allow the use of a pesticide, the Canadian public is invited to submit comments and questions.

All chemical substances have inherent risks, which is why Health Canada has a dedicated regulatory program in place to review pesticides.

Given the rigour of the evaluation process, we are confident that the pesticides approved for use in Canada, including lawn and garden products, can be used safely under the prescribed circumstances indicated on the label.

Canadians should use pesticides judiciously, carefully follow label directions, and take measures to become better informed about their safe and effective use.
Any questions about pesticides can be addressed to Health Canada’s Pesticide Information Services at 1-800-267-6315.”