Suspected Poisoning Sickens Dozens
The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 10, 2007; 12:01 AM
BEIJING -- One person died and more than 200 people fell sick after
eating food that may have been contaminated with rat poison at a
hospital restaurant in northeastern China, state media and the hospital
Xinhua News Agency said the victims included patients and staff at the
Heilongjiang Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The victims all ate porridge for breakfast at the hospital's restaurant
Monday, and investigators suspected the water had been contaminated by
rat poison, Xinhua said. Most complained of nausea and diarrhea.
A woman with the administrative office of the hospital who refused to
give her name confirmed that poisonings had occurred, but said she was
not allowed to release any other information.
Mass poisonings are common in China, which has been struggling to
improve a dismal food safety record. Manufacturers often mislabel food
products or add illegal substances to them. Cooks routinely disregard
hygiene rules or mistakenly use industrial chemicals instead of salt and
Xinhua said a 77-year-old patient who had been hospitalized Friday for
cardiovascular disease died Monday afternoon. The other victims were out
of danger, according to the report.
Xinhua said the hospital is one of the largest and best hospitals in the
provincial capital of Harbin.