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Q&A/Four things to know about Bongkrekic acid

03/28/2024 11:27 PM
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A New Taipei City health official checks with an employee of restaurant chain Polam Kopitiam's rice noodle supplier of in the city Thursday. Photo courtesy of New Taipei City Department of Health March 28, 2024
A New Taipei City health official checks with an employee of restaurant chain Polam Kopitiam's rice noodle supplier of in the city Thursday. Photo courtesy of New Taipei City Department of Health March 28, 2024

Taipei, March 28 (CNA) After a recent deadly food poisoning outbreak at the Xinyi branch of Malaysian restaurant chain Polam Kopitiam in Taipei caused two deaths, Bongkrekic acid was found in a blood sample taken from one of the deceased Thursday, forensic autopsy results showed.

This is the first time the rare toxin has ever been detected in Taiwan.

Here are four questions and answers (Q&A) about Bongkrekic acid, based on information provided by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration.

What is Bongkrekic acid? How did it get into the food?

Bongkrekic acid is a rare toxin induced by the contamination of bacterium Burkholderia gladioli.

It can proliferate in food rich in fatty acid -- especially in coconuts and corn -- and grows rapidly in environments with a temperature of 22 to 33 degrees Celsius and a neutral pH scale.

What is the impact of Bongkrekic acid on human health?

Bongkrekic acid affects the liver and kidneys, causing symptoms such as lethargy, dizziness, drowsiness, abdominal pain and vomiting.

In severe cases, consuming food contaminated with Bongkrekic acid can be life-threatening.

How can consumers protect themselves?

Bongkrekic acid cannot be destroyed by washing or cooking, and thus it is crucial to prevent it.

Starch-fermented food that has been stored in an inappropriate environment for a long time should not be consumed.

Are there other food poisoning incidents related to Bongkrekic acid?

Indonesia: The first fatal incident related to Bongkrekic acid was reported in 1895, resulting from the consumption of tempe bongkrek, a traditional fermented food made from coconut milk.

Mozambique: A poisoning incident arose from drinking a beverage made from fermented corn starch in 2015.

China: A poisoning incident resulted from consuming corn fermented food in 2020.

(By Elaine Hou)

Enditem/AW

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