Two Deaths, Ten Affected By Food Poisoning Reported In Vegetarian Restaurant Owned By Malaysian In Taiwan



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Two Deaths, Ten Affected By Food Poisoning Reported In Vegetarian Restaurant Owned By Malaysian In Taiwan


A total of 10 suspected cases of food poisoning have emerged at the renowned vegetarian restaurant 'Bao Lin Tea House' in Taipei, Taiwan, owned by a Malaysian named Leong Fung-hsuan (黎仿轩). As of 4:30 p.m., the Taipei City Health Bureau had received reports of 8 cases from hospitals. The latest addition, within the past hour, is a patient who has been admitted to the intensive care unit due to liver failure and septic shock.

Status & Symptoms 

According to the Taipei City Health Bureau, as of Wednesday, a total of 10 suspected cases have been reported, with 8 individuals seeking medical attention, including 2 fatalities. With the addition of 1 new case of liver failure and septic shock, the number of critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit has risen to 4.

The Taipei City Health Bureau Director, Chen Yan-yuan (陈彦元), stated that among the 8 reported cases, a common factor is that all individuals had consumed rice noodles and vermicelli. The 8 cases presented symptoms such as liver failure, fulminant hepatitis, and septic shock, with blood pH levels tending towards acidity. However, routine tests have not yet identified common bacteria associated with food poisoning.

Possible Cause: Vermicelli

According to a report, a doctor suspects that the incidents may be caused by rice fermentation acid, a toxin that can be fatal in just 1 mg. This toxin could come from improperly stored rice products like vermicelli, and since it's non-bacterial, post-incident faecal tests may not detect it. Dr Yen Tsung-hai (颜宗海), Director of the Clinical Toxicology Center at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, highlighted the rarity of the situation despite rice noodles and pandan leaves being common foods. However, investigations into the cause of death and food poisoning are ongoing. Both health authorities and hospitals will conduct bacterial cultures to determine the cause.

Dr Yen cautioned against premature conclusions, noting that typical food poisoning symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and fever. He also stressed the importance of proper food storage, advising individuals to pay attention to restaurant cleanliness and for operators to separate raw and cooked foods during preparation. If food is not consumed promptly, it should be refrigerated.

The Restaurant Owner From Malaysia 

The founder of 'Bao Lin Tea House', Leong Fung-hsuan (黎仿轩), originally sold Char-Koay-Teow (fried rice noodles) at Taiwan's night market before transitioning to Malaysian vegetarian cuisine.

The lease for the affected store was due to expire at the end of March, and plans were underway to expand to the eastern district. Unexpectedly, a severe food poisoning incident occurred just before closing time. Leong had previously been accused of owing NT$600,000 to vegetable vendors, attracting media attention.

In a previous media interview, Leong dined at the restaurant on the day of the incident, considering it an isolated case and stating that "vegetarian food is very safe." However, whether it was food poisoning remains under investigation. If confirmed, Leong may face legal consequences. Lawyer Lin Chen-huang (林振煌) stated that Leong has been summoned as a witness. If tests confirm food poisoning, he may face administrative penalties and compensation claims from family members of the deceased, potentially leading to charges of negligent homicide.

Previous Cases

Rice fermentation acid poisoning is not common in Taiwan but has been involved in several significant cases in China. For instance, in October 2020, the "sour soup poisoning" incident in Heilongjiang Province resulted in the deaths of 9 out of 12 family members who consumed the soup. In July 2023, two women in Henan Province suffered rice fermentation acid poisoning, one of whom died and the other was injured, after consuming spoiled cold noodles.

food poisoning death poison toxin rice Vermicelli char koay teow vegetarian malaysian taiwan food poisoning Taipei deads died liver failure septic shock bao lin tea House


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