|Industrial Pollution in Japan (UNU, 1992, 187 pages)|
|Chapter - 3 The arsenic milk poisoning incident|
Kichiro Shoji and Masuro Sugai
From June to August 1955 in the western areas of Japan, including Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu, 12,131 new-born babies were poisoned and 130 died (according to a 1956 Ministry of Public Welfare survey), because during production arsenic had been mixed into the Morinaga Powdered Milk "MF" produced by the Tokushima plant of the Morinaga Milk Company.
In March 1981, after 26 years had passed, it was finally acknowledged that 13,389 persons had ingested MF milk, that 600 persons had died as a result, and that 6,093 persons were suffering from continuing health difficulties, with 624 afflicted by severe mental retardation, developmental difficulties, and brain-damage-related paralysis.
If one were to attribute the cause of this incident simply to a default in the production system of powdered baby milk, then one would fail to see its true repercussions. In fact, the incident was part of a social trend in which the practice of breast-feeding fell victim to the mechanisms of mass consumption promoted by the dairy industry, which took advantage of the general atmosphere in society at large, the medical administration, and, particularly, the community of paediatricians.