Food Poisoning Kills Boy in China

France24/AFP, 29/04/07-

A seven-year-old boy died and 55 others fell violently ill after eating poisonous beef in an ethnic minority area in southwest China’s Yunnan province, state media reported Sunday.

The victims, all residents of Zhadian township, had eaten beef stew Thursday spiked with the chemical nitrite, which is toxic in excessive amounts, the Xinhua news agency said.

The street vendor who sold the stew had run out of salt when cooking the dish and grabbed “something that looked like salt” instead, according to the agency.

Sample tests of the stew showed more than 12 grams of nitrite per kilo of beef, four times the fatal amount, Xinhua said.

Nitrite is used in very small quantities as a food additive. High amounts can lead to headaches, vomiting, unconsciousness and death.

Reports of food poisoning outbreaks emerge frequently in China, where hygiene and safety standards remain low for many of the nation’s 1.3 billion people.

Earlier this month, 203 hospital patients in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province were poisoned in what authorities determined was an intentional act. One of the patients later died.

- original report from