The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged the public not to eat wildlife or unidentified wild plants, as they could be fatal, with nearly 7,000 people affected by food poisoning last year, including two deaths due to wildlife consumption.
The number of food poisoning incidents increased by nearly 50 percent last year, from 398 cases involving 4,616 people in the previous year to 503 cases involving 6,944 people, FDA data showed.
That figure was the second-highest in history, the FDA said, adding that the highest number was recorded in 1997, with 7,235 people.
Photo: Hua Meng-ching, Taipei Times
Among the 503 cases, 87 were food poisoning clusters affecting 4,019 teachers and students, due to contaminated food provided by caterers, the agency said.
The major causes of food poisoning last year included toxins produced by two kinds of bacteria — Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus — both of which grow in food that has been improperly stored, the FDA said, citing as an example a person who fell ill after eating a souffle, as the dessert had spawned S aureus after having been left at room temperature for a prolonged period.
“Danger zone” is a medical term defined as the temperature range in which food-borne pathogens can grow, with the range falling between 7°C and 60°C, said Yen Tzung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology.
In summer, high temperatures can easily cause bacteria to grow in food and infect people with acute gastroenteritis, which is characterized by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever, Yen said.
Norovirus was another major cause of food poisoning last year, the FDA said.
Taiwan had no cases of death due to food poisoning for six consecutive years until last year, when two people died after eating wildlife, FDA official Chou Pei-ju (周珮如) said.
One died after drinking soup made with a “frog” that he caught, which was later identified as a poisonous Central Formosa toad, or Bufo bankorensis.
The other person died after eating self-picked wild mushrooms, which included false parasol, a poisonous fungus, Chou said.
Past analyses showed that some people accidentally ate poisonous toads thinking they were edible frogs, said Yang Chen-chang (楊振昌), a toxicologist at Taipei Veterans General Hospital.
The mortality rate in patients who consumed toxins produced by animals is higher than those produced by plants, Yang added.
Another popular misconception is that only animals and plants that are bright and vivid in color are poisonous, Yang said, urging people to exercise more caution, stop eating wildlife and safeguard their health.
SECRET OUT: Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung yesterday accidentally revealed that the infections occurred at the ministry’s Taoyuan General Hospital The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported the fifth COVID-19 case in a cluster infection at a Taoyuan hospital, where four other medical workers were confirmed to have been infected over the past week. The latest case is a nurse who had tested negative on Tuesday last week, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, told a news conference. However, on Thursday, she developed symptoms, such as nasal congestion and a cough, and a second test yesterday found that she was infected, Chen said. She is the head nurse of a ward where two
VIGILANCE: While two of the cases are family members of a nurse, there is no sign of community spread and the source of infection is identifiable, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four new domestic COVID-19 cases associated with a cluster infection at a Taoyuan hospital. Since the first case was identified on Tuesday last week, five healthcare workers — two doctors and three nurses — at the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Taoyuan General Hospital have tested positive for the virus. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that two of the four new cases are the husband and daughter of a nurse (case No. 863) who had earlier been confirmed to have COVID-19. The husband (case No. 864)
Don Quijote, the biggest discount store in Japan, is opening its first store in Taiwan today. The three-story Don Don Donki store in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area, which operates 24 hours a day, has already created 400 jobs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said in a press release. Many Taiwanese, including Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), consider a trip to Don Quijote an essential stop in Japan. “I have been to Don Quijote at least 10 times myself,” Huang said yesterday at a news conference announcing the store’s opening. “They are rendering an important service, because we cannot travel
INCURSION: After 13 PLA aircraft flew into Taiwan’s ADIZ, the US Department of State said that China should rather ‘engage in meaningful dialogue’ with Taiwan US President Joe Biden’s administration on Saturday urged China to stop placing military pressure on Taiwan, while calling on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to engage in peaceful dialogue. The statement by the US Department of State was issued after 13 Chinese military aircraft flew into Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Saturday, the highest number observed in a single day this year, the Ministry of National Defense said. The air force scrambled fighter jets to monitor the Chinese aircraft, issuing radio warnings and mobilizing air defense assets until the planes left the ADIZ. The US “notes