To the Editor.—I read with interest the editorial on toxic oil syndrome by Spurzem and Lockey1 in the February issue of Archives. They did not comment on yusho (Japanese for "oil disease"), but it should be a reminder of the horror of food contamination with toxic agents. Yusho is acute or subacute poisoning caused by ingestion of rice bran oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls.
The incident took place in 1968, affecting 13,000 persons who had ingested contaminated cooking oil.2,3 A few months before the yusho incident, 2 million chickens fell sick, 400,000 to 500,000 of which died. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry traced the cause to a by-product of the rice bran oil added to chicken feed, but the ministry neither identified the poison nor notified the Ministry of Health and Welfare of possible food contamination.2 The local and national governments are on trial to
Kawane H. Food Contamination. Arch Intern Med. 1984;144(10):2100. doi:10.1001/archinte.1984.04400010227048