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9 in family die after eating homemade corn noodles

By Zhou Huiying in Harbin | | Updated: 2020-10-19 20:25
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Nine family members in Jixi city, Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, have died after eating homemade corn noodles. The last victim of the poisoning incident was confirmed dead on Monday after treatment in a hospital, Red Star News reported.

During a 12-member family gathering on the morning of Oct 5, nine older family members ate "Suantangzi", a thick type of noodle made from fermented corn flour. Three young people present refused to try the food because of its strange taste, according to local government.

The nine who ate the noodles felt ill in succession several hours later and eight were confirmed dead as of Oct 11, while the only survivor - a 47-year-old woman surnamed Li - received treatment in a hospital. Li died at noon on Monday, according to her son.

A high concentration of bongkrekic acid, a respiratory toxin produced by the bacterium pseudomonas cocovenenans, was detected in the corn noodles, as well as in the gastric fluid of those who became ill, the provincial health commission said on Oct 12.

It also was found that the ingredients of the homemade food had been frozen for nearly one year.

Bongkrekic acid is a main cause of poisoning from fermented flour products and spoiled fresh white fungus, as well as other spoiled starch products, experts said. 

Eating food contaminated with bongkrekic acid can result in poisoning for both humans and animals and even lead to death, with death rates as high as 40 to 100 percent.

To avoid poisoning, experts reminded the public to avoid cooking food with soaked or moldy corn, and to not make or eat any food made from fermented grain.

Zhou Jiaxin contributed to the story.

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