Six dead from infected pickles in Japan

Six people have died and at least 100 others have been made ill by pickles contaminated with E coli bacteria in northern Japan.

Officials in Hokkaido said today that the pickled Chinese cabbage was made by two local producers and sold across the region. The first reports of illness occurred about 10 days ago.

Most victims were elderly people in nursing homes, but a four-year-old girl in Sapporo city died last week, a few days after eating the pickles.

Pickled Chinese cabbage is a popular Japanese side dish, and the deaths have shocked the country. Most food poisoning cases in the past have involved meat or seafood.

Officials are still investigating, but suspect insufficient sterilisation may have been the cause.

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