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Four more in food poisoning outbreak test positive for toxic acid

03/31/2024 09:35 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, March 31 (CNA) Another four people from among the 31 who have fallen ill after dining at Malaysian restaurant chain Polam Kopitiam have tested positive for Bongkrekic acid, further confirming that the toxin is at the center of the food poisoning outbreak.

As of 5:30 p.m Sunday, a total of 29 people who ate at the restaurant's Xinyi branch in Taipei -- the epicenter of the outbreak -- and two who dined at its Raohe branch, also in Taipei, between March 19 and March 24 have fallen ill, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW).

Of the 31, two have died, five are in critical condition, three have been transferred to a regular ward, and 21 have been discharged or did not require medical attention.

The death toll could rise, as four of the five in critical condition are in comas, while the other individual has shown some improvement, according to Deputy Health Ministry Victor Wang (王必勝).

The two dead, five in critical condition, and another patient who was hospitalized all tested positive for Bongkrekic acid, while the two people who got sick after eating at the Raohe branch tested negative.

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The MOHW wanted to extend the testing to others who were not hospitalized to confirm the toxin's presence in the Xinyi branch outbreak, and information on the first tests to be conducted was released by Wang on Facebook later Sunday.

He said test samples had been received from 13 of the non-hospitalized patients who dined at the restaurant's Xinyi branch, and all four of the samples on which results were obtained tested positive for Bongkrekic acid.

The four patients ate at the restaurant between March 19 and March 23 and all had some form of rice noodles.

Earlier in the day, Wang confirmed that the two diners who fell ill after eating at the Raohe branch had tested negative for Bongkrekic acid, indicating that the cases were unrelated to the Xinyi outbreak.

Despite all the testing, health authorities are no closer to figuring out how the restaurant's customers came to have Bongkrekic acid in their systems.

Previous tests have shown none of the rice noodle samples collected from the Xinyi branch or suppliers were found to have the toxin, and Wang said Sunday that no trace of the toxin was found in two types of soy sauces tested recently.

He said other ingredients commonly used in the rice noodle dishes all of the Xinyi branch customers ate were still being tested.

(By Sunny Lai)

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