Food poisoning strikes 27 monks and nuns in Cambodia

Pech Sotheary of the Khmer Times reports that 27 monks and nuns from Battambang province’s Bavel district were struck with food poisoning after consuming large amounts of soy milk.

District police chief Oeum Tith said yesterday that 14 monks and 13 nuns from the Bavel pagoda started showing symptoms of food poisoning after an ordination ceremony. They are all in a stable condition after being sent to the commune’s health center.

 “The main cause is likely the homemade soy milk because about 10 to 15 minutes after they drank it, they started displaying symptoms of food poisoning. However we’re still waiting on the official results from the experts,” Mr. Tith said.

Provincial health department officer Voeung Bun Reth said a preliminary investigation showed the tainted soy milk to have been the cause, coupled with the fact that the recently-ordained monks had consumed it in large amounts as a food substitute.

 “Young monks aren’t used to skipping dinner. So they drank too much soy milk after they were ordained yesterday morning,” he said.

 “Once they are ordained, they cannot have dinner based on the rules of the religion, so they drank too much soy milk instead, which caused them to vomit. But now they’re better and there is no problem.” He also urged anyone producing or consuming food products to pay special attention to food safety guidelines to avoid making consumers ill.

Watermelons suspected: 21 Cambodian monks sickened

Twenty-one monks became ill with diarrhea and vomiting after eating watermelons at the cultural celebration of Bun Pkar in Battambang province.  

monks.bad.habitsAs of yesterday afternoon, two of the ailing monks were still in the hospital in critical condition. 

Others had returned to their Koun Klong pagoda of Prey Domrei village in Moung Russey district, where the celebration took place yesterday and the suspected tainted fruit was eaten.

The district police chief, Kith Heang, said: “After questioning, during the celebration that day, some villagers claimed that they bought some watermelons from the market and some bought it from a fruit seller on the street in the village to offer to the monks. 

They really had no idea that the watermelons were poisoned.”

After their investigation, police are certain the fruit was poisoned. They urged any villager suffering symptoms to be treated at the hospital.

 

19 dead, 172 sick from rice wine in Cambodia

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday called on people of the country to pay attention to food safety after tainted rice wine had killed 19 people and sickened 172 others in eastern Kratie province since last month.

rice.wine.cambodia“The authorities have responsibility to inspect food safety; however, each person should take responsibility for his/her own life,” he said.

At least 19 people had died and 172 others fallen ill in Kratie province in five separate incidents in recent weeks after they consumed rice wine brewed with “high levels of methanol,” Ly Sovann, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said Sunday.

Laboratory tests found that the tainted wine contained methanol levels between 10.57 percent and 12 percent, which were much higher than the safe level of 0.15 percent.

Rice wine is popular in rural areas in Cambodia due to its cheap price.

10 dead, 100 sickened by rotten dog meat in Cambodia

Six people died earlier in the week after eating the barbecued carcass of a dog believed to have been found by a roadside.

dog.meat.cambodiaFour others from the same remote village in the Kratié (or Kraches) province in the northeast of the country later died after consuming the meat as well as drinking rice wine on Tuesday.

The deaths began on Sunday after a 76-year-old man died several hours after cooking and eating the dead dog. 

In a zen-like twist, guests at his funeral, which was held the following day, also ate the leftover dog meat and were rushed to the hospital with acute food poisoning.

The deaths are in region of Cambodia where canines are regarded as a delicacy.

At least 542 sickened in Cambodia, mainly schoolchildren

Ingredients thought to have caused a mass outbreak of food poisoning on Saturday at a Siem Reap province event organised by the NGO World Vision were seized yesterday and sent to Phnom Penh to undergo tests.

baguette filled with meat and picklesA crowd of more than 700 people, mainly comprising schoolchildren, attended the event in Chi Kraeng district, which focused on raising awareness about child labour. But free snacks organised by the NGO – a baguette filled with meat and pickles – left the majority unwell.

Siem Reap Provincial Governor Khem Bunsung said 542 people, including 364 children, had fallen ill. He added that most had been quickly discharged from hospital, with just 30 people remaining at health centres yesterday afternoon.

However, Um Sareth, the head of a health centre in Pongro Loeu commune, said the real number was much higher, with more than 800 people reporting symptoms of food poisoning.

Soeun Sen, chief of Siem Reap’s anti-economic crimes police unit, said officials yesterday ordered the temporary closure of the bakery that supplied the bread.

1 child dead: Safety of food a mystery – even to Cambodia gov’t

In Tbong Khmum, an otherwise reportedly healthy 6-year-old girl’s death, after eating snacks suspected to be contaminated, has prompted a local food-poisoning scare and raised larger questions about the safety of Cambodia’s food distribution.

2541200628_948fb10627On November 15, three girls in Dambe district started seizing and vomiting, according to the district authorities.

One of the girls was particularly badly affected. After 24 hours of severe gastrointestinal symptoms and convulsing, her parents headed to the provincial hospital, but she died before a doctor could see her, the village chief told the Post.

Though no cause of death has been confirmed, local officials blamed two packaged imported snacks the girls shared hours before becoming ill.

The village chief confiscated the remaining packages for sale, and the provincial Health Department sent samples to labs in Phnom Penh. But after two weeks, the samples failed to test positive for a contaminant, which didn’t surprise the health workers.

“Cambodia doesn’t have lab equipment for checking this kind of sample,” said Keo Vannak, director of the provincial Health Department, adding that the treats have been sent abroad for better analysis.

While questions remain about what caused the girls’ sickness, the village is in a panic about its food supply.

“Our villagers are scared to buy packaged foods,” said Phath Sath, the village chief.

Despite confronting an enormous problem of nutrient wastage through diarrheal diseases – which kill millions annually – there is no “coordinated program of food surveillance and little analytical data regarding microbiological or chemical contamination of food” in Cambodia, the government says.