Family reunions for the Mid-Autumn Festival in Wuhan ran afoul with a popular local dish as 42 people were hospitalized with stomach disorders.
The diners experienced abdominal pains, vomiting and diarrhea after eating pot-stewed duck necks on Sunday. They had reportedly purchased the delicacies from a newly opened chain store named Juewei Duck Neck in the capital of Hubei province.
All 42 men and women, including two pregnant women, were sent to Guanggu district branch of Hubei Provincial Chinese Medicine Hospital and were diagnosed with food poisoning, Tao Jing, a hospital spokesman, told China Daily yesterday.
"The patients are in stable condition and nobody's life is in danger," he said, adding that about 30 of them remained in hospital.
The chain store, opened days before the family reunion, has been closed and local health and public security authorities are investigating, according to Wuhan-based newspaper Changjiang Times yesterday.
The authorities said it was a food-poisoning case and laboratory tests were being conducted to determine what substance caused the poisoning, the local newspaper said.
The snack, a party delicacy, was produced in the store's headquarters in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, Qin Guohong, a spokesman for Changsha Jueweixuan Business Management Corporation, said yesterday. The firm operates the Wuhan store.
The pot-stewed duck products were delivered to the chain store within 3 hours, he said, adding all the food was stored in a refrigerator-like container during transportation.
"We have assigned special personnel to verify the case and will ensure that all consumers' interests are respected if the investigation finds it was our company's fault," Qin said.
The food may have been spoiled by bacteria, contained unauthorized additives, or was improperly transported, Changjiang Times said, citing an anonymous food expert.
The snack-food company was established in 2006 and had secured national quality safety certificates, Qin said.
It owns 2,000 chain stores across the country, according to the China Chain Store and Franchise Association.
(China Daily 10/06/2009 page2)