Sun, Feb 21, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Restaurant air poisons FDA staff

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said restaurants should make sure they have proper ventilation systems to maintain safe air quality.

The agency made the remarks after an FDA Northern Center department dinner party was cut short on Friday evening because of carbon monoxide poisoning in a restaurant in Taipei.

A total of 130 members from the center were having a spring dinner party at Wei Fu Lo Restaurant (為福樓) on Zhongxiao E Road Sec 5 in Taipei, and at about 8:30pm, dozens of people began feeling ill, suffering dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.

The FDA said 47 of its officials felt ill that night and were taken to six hospitals for emergency treatment for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

After initial treatment, 41 people remained in hospital for further observation, while the others were discharged, FDA Director-General Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美) said.

Taipei Municipal Zhongxiao Hospital emergency room chief Li Bin-chou (李彬州) said the carbon monoxide concentration level at the restaurant was high and most of the patients sent to the hospital suffered from dizziness and vomiting, and that one patient was found to have a blood carboxyhemoglobin level as high as 24.4 percent.

Li said it was fortunate that all the patients were conscious when sent to the hospitals and said that most would be able to leave the hospital after undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

The restaurant owner said the group was seated on the third floor of the restaurant at 13 tables, and each table had a pot of the restaurant’s signature dish — sour cabbage and white pork hot pot (酸菜白肉湯), which were heated on charcoal grills.

He said the high carbon monoxide concentration could have resulted from the charcoal, together with the large number of customers and extended dining.

The FDA said restaurants, especially those that serve hotpot or dishes that are kept warm with fire, should make sure they have proper ventilation and air exhaust systems to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

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