Six elderly women and a 4-year-old girl were killed earlier this month when a cabbage they consumed was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. More than 100 were sickened in the Hokkaido area outbreak.

The Japan Times said it was the worst food poisoning outbreak to be experienced on island nation in a decade.

The women who died were residents of nursing homes in Sapporo and Ebetsu that served the bad cabbages. The girl died Aug 11, also in Sapporo. All who were sickened and died apparently ate a lightly pickled Chinese cabbage produced by a local company.

One of the elderly women ate the pickled product at her nursing home on Aug. 1 and died Aug. 18 from multiple organ failure after nine days in the hospital.

The young girl from Sapporo died five days after developing E. coli symptoms. Her family bought the pickled cabbage at a local supermarket.

Health officials told the newspaper they do not know how the bacteria got mixed with the pickled cabbage.

In 2002, Japan saw the deaths of nine people with E. coli infections from eating marinade chicken at a hospital and its nursing home annex at Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture.