Search is on for toxic wine sold online. Pexels

At least three bottles of wine that could be a type that was recalled 33 years ago for possibly containing a toxic substance, were recently put up for sale and purchased in an online auction in Japan, it has been learned.

The bid for all three bottles of wine - apparently the 180ml product made in 1981 by Tokyo-based Manns Wine Co. under the trading name of Hyoka Budo Ginjo - was placed on the Yahoo Auction site by an individual in August this year, and was almost immediately accepted, according to sources. Manns Wine is a subsidiary of Kikkoman Corp.

In 1985, the former Health and Welfare Ministry ordered the wine company to recall a total of about 390,000 bottles of Hyoka Budo Ginjo wine, saying that the product was suspected of containing diethylene glycol - an ingredient in plastics - which potentially induces such health hazards as kidney failure if ingested.

However, most of the wine was presumably consumed: only about 40,000 bottles were recalled. 

No health problems in association with the wine have ever been reported, according to the sources.

Kikkoman plans to hold talks with the website operator to seek ways to contact the seller and the winning bidder.

The company also intends to thoroughly monitor relevant sites in an effort to discover similar cases.

"We thought that [the wine in question] had become almost non-existent worldwide because we collected it back then by visiting households of those who purchased it," said a Kikkoman employee in charge of public relations.