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Food Poisoning Claims Fewer Lives in 2002
Less people have succumbed to food poisoning this year, the Ministry of Health said Wednesday in Beijing. But the nation still needs to keep a close eye on food quality.

A total of 114 people have been killed by food poisoning in the first 10 months of this year, a ministry report said. It had received reports of 104 serious food-poisoning accidents from across the country in the period, accounting for 5,900 victims.

The report said the number of deaths was 12.7 percent lower than the same period last year, while the number of incidents was 43.8 percent lower and the overall number of victims was down 56 percent.

Chemicals were the main cause of food poisoning this year. Such incidents resulted in the deaths of 78 people or 70.9 percent of the total fatalities and caused 1,943 people or 32.9 percent of the total to be poisoned.

Of the various chemicals, different types of rat poison have become the top killer, being responsible for 23 incidents and 69 deaths.

On September 14, a man, who was subsequently executed, poisoned a business rival's dough, killing 42 people in Nanjing of east China's Jiangsu Province.

After the case, China launched a national campaign against the illegal and improper use of rat poison. Thousands of kilograms of illegally made rat poison have been collected in various regions.

The number of people poisoned by bacteria in food, which was the main cause of food poisoning last year, reached 2,012 this year, a decline of 70.7 percent compared with the first 10 months of 2001.

By the end of October, a total of 3,320 people had been poisoned by food provided by canteens, making up 56 percent of the total. In the same period last year, the number was 9,306, making up about 69 percent of all cases.

(China Daily November 28, 2002)

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