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Suspected food poisoning outbreak in Taipei restaurant leaves one dead

03/27/2024 11:50 AM
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CNA photo March 26
CNA photo March 26

Taipei, March 27 (CNA) A suspected food poisoning outbreak at Malaysian vegetarian restaurant Polam Kopitiam in downtown Taipei has left one person dead as of Tuesday night, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW).

At least eight people who dined at the restaurant located in the Far Eastern Department Store in Xinyi District on March 19, 21 and 22 did not feel well after finishing their meals, and six of them later sought medical attention after experiencing symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, according to the Taipei Department of Health.

One of them, who ate at the restaurant on March 22, died two days later while several others remain sick, the department said, without providing any other details.

The department also said it has ordered Polam Kopitiam to suspend operations.

March 29: 

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Owner of restaurant chain at center of food poisoning outbreak apologizes

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March 28:

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● Bongkrek acid suspected in deadly Taipei food poisoning outbreak

● 5 people remain in critical condition due to food poisoning in Taipei

March 27:

● Two die, 4 critically ill in suspected Taipei food poisoning outbreak

● 2nd death reported in suspected Taipei food poisoning outbreak

● Taipei restaurant chain closed amid probe into suspected food poisoning deaths

The patient who died was first brought to the emergency room of New Taipei City Hospital during the afternoon on March 23 after repeatedly vomiting, having diarrhea, and feeling weak, the hospital said in a statement Tuesday.

After being treated, the individual was able to get out of bed and walk normally, and was discharged from the hospital that night.

The same individual sought emergency treatment again a day later at MacKay Memorial Hospital in Taipei, and died there on March 24, according to the department.

The New Taipei hospital said it reported the suspected food poisoning case to the "competent authorities" on the evening of March 23.

That was confirmed by the New Taipei Department of Health, which said Tuesday that it received a report from the hospital regarding a suspected food poisoning case and passed the information to the Taipei Department of Health on March 24.

After receiving the report, the Taipei Department of Health inspected the restaurant the same day as part of an investigation into suspected food poisoning.

It said it found several flaws, including suspected cockroach droppings on dishes, knives stored on the counter next to the sink, and a failure to provide employee health records, and it asked the restaurant to make improvements by March 27.

The health department said it later received reports on March 26 of three other food poisoning cases involving the restaurant that occurred on March 19 and 21 from other hospitals, and ordered the restaurant to suspend its operations.

Meanwhile, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office said it seized surveillance footage and collected evidence at the restaurant's premises early Wednesday together with police and health authorities, and has assigned a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation.

A team from the Food and Drug Administration inspects the restaurant on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the FDA March 26, 2024
A team from the Food and Drug Administration inspects the restaurant on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the FDA March 26, 2024

Deputy Health Minister Victor Wang (王必勝) said Tuesday night that the central government would also get involved even though food poisoning cases are usually handled by local health authorities.

He said a national level lab of the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) will take over the task of examining food samples and related materials on the scene collected by Taipei's Department of Health to pin down the cause as soon as possible.

The TFDA led a team that included doctors and toxic material experts to the restaurant Tuesday night to help investigate the case.

(By Shen Pei-yao, Wang Hung Kuo, Christie Chen and Frances Huang)

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