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Owner of restaurant chain at center of food poisoning outbreak apologizes

03/29/2024 11:01 PM
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The owner of the Polam Kopitiam restaurant chain bows in front of the press after being questioned by prosecutors in Taipei Friday. CNA photo March 29, 2024
The owner of the Polam Kopitiam restaurant chain bows in front of the press after being questioned by prosecutors in Taipei Friday. CNA photo March 29, 2024

Taipei, March 29 (CNA) The owner of the Polam Kopitiam restaurant chain apologized for the recent food poisoning outbreak linked to his business and for heightening public concerns over food safety, his lawyer said Friday.

The business owner did not speak to the press after being questioned by prosecutors earlier Friday, but he did bow twice to express regret about the restaurant causing consumer panic, and the two patrons who died from food poisoning.

The lawyer said his client has cooperated fully with the investigation into what caused the food poisoning.

The business owner asked a chef to prepare the rice noodle dish that investigators believe could be responsible for the food poisoning and tasted it in front of Taipei City health officials when they inspected the restaurant branch in Xinyi District on March 24, the lawyer said.

The owner's parent ate the same dish at the same restaurant in a food court around the time from March 19-24, when several diners became ill after visiting the branch.

The business owner, the manager of the restaurant branch, and a chef have been banned from leaving the country, after they were questioned by police and the Taipei District Prosecutors Office and provided statements on Wednesday.

The owner of the Polam Kopitiam restaurant chain (in black face mask) is accompanied by his lawyer after being questioned by prosecutors in Taipei Friday. CNA photo March 29, 2024
The owner of the Polam Kopitiam restaurant chain (in black face mask) is accompanied by his lawyer after being questioned by prosecutors in Taipei Friday. CNA photo March 29, 2024

As of 5:30 p.m., a total of 21 diners had experienced food poisoning after eating similar dishes at the food court restaurant, including two who died on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The two dead men and six other patients being treated in hospitals as severe cases have tested positive for Bongkrekic acid, a rare toxin reported in Taiwan for the first time.

Three people who had diarrhea or felt nauseous did not seek medical treatments, while the other 10 have returned home after being treated, according to the ministry.

The prosecutors said they are investigating the case as a suspected violation of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation, with the deaths caused by negligence.

(By Lin Chang-shun and Kay Liu)

Enditem/AW

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