Japan's police have arrested a factory worker for allegedly poisoning frozen food with pesticides causing illness in more than 2800 people across the country.
The 49-year-old man has been identified by media as Toshiki Abe, who works at a frozen food factory in Gunma, north of Tokyo, run by a subsidiary of Japan's largest seafood firm Maruha Nichiro Holdings.
The suspect denied the allegations, while the motive behind the alleged crime was still unknown, public broadcaster NHK reported. Local police officials declined to comment.
At least 2843 people nationwide have complained of illness - most displaying mild symptoms of vomiting, cramps and diarrhoea - after eating the suspect products, according to the health and welfare ministry.
The subsidiary, called Aqlifoods, received the first of a series of complaints in November, with a customer saying its frozen pizza smelled like machine oil.
The firm did not announce a product recall until 28 December, after tests found traces of a chemical called malathion, which is used as a pesticide and to treat head lice.
Investigators were interviewing workers assigned to the packaging room, suspecting that the toxin might have been deliberately added during production at the factory, local press said.
Food safety standards are generally high in Japan, and companies that fall short of public expectations often find the reputational damage lasts for years, , AFP reports.
Aqlifoods has recalled 6.4 million potentially tainted products, with 5.5 million packages recovered by Tuesday. None of the products in question had been shipped overseas, the company said.