The Osaka state government has been ordered to pay a radish sprout farmer ¥6m (US$0.045m) in compensation after its warnings of an outbreak of 0157 E-coli bacteria damaged shipments of his produce.

Sixty-four year old Hajimu Minamino, from Habikino in the Osaka Prefecture, had filed a damages suit against the state for compensation of about ¥52m.

In July 1996, a food poisoning outbreak caused by the 0-157 strain of E. coli bacteria was prevalent in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture. Of the 10,000 people affected nationwide, 9,000 were from Sakai and three children died.

The former Health and Welfare Ministry made several announcements in August and September of 1996 that white radish sprouts shipped from specific facilities could be the source of the O-157.

Industry association Nihon Kaiware Kyokai and 19 radish growers nationwide responded angrily however, claiming in a joint damages suit in December 1996 that no O-157 bacteria was detected in radish sprout facilities, and that the government surveys were not scientific.

Judge Hiroshi Muraoka, presiding over the case at the Osaka District Court on Friday, ruled: "The government announcements lacked balance and discredited the plaintiff."