TOYAMA, Japan- At least four people died and 21 others were in critical condition due to apparent food poisoning after eating a dish called "yukhoe" at a yakiniku restaurant in Central Japan.
Two of the victims were adult women, while the other two were young boys.
The food poisoning occurred at Yakiniku-zakaya Ebisu in Toyama prefecture, where a 70-year-old woman fell into serious condition after consuming yukhoe, a dish of seasoned raw beef topped with raw eggyolk, at the said restaurant. She died afterwards.
The old woman's family member and a 6-year old boy also fell ill and died after eating the beef dish at the said restaurant.
Another case of food poisoning happened at Ebisu's chain in Fukui prefecture, wherein a young boy also died after eating yukhoe.
Health authorities in Japan said that the cause of the food poisoning was the O-111 strain of E. coli bacteria, which was detected in the bodies of the two young boys.
The beef served at the restaurants were sourced exclusively from a meat wholesaler in Tokyo. A personnel from the meat wholesaler told health authorities that the beef were properly handled, sliced, vacuum-packed and stored in refrigerators. He also added that the meat was meant to be eaten after it was being cooked.
But the restaurant insisted that the beef was also safe to be consumed raw.
Police in Toyama and Fukui prefectures were now teaming up to investigate this matter as a criminal case.