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Food Poisonings Sicken 90 in South China

At least 70 people became sick with food poisoning in Meizhou City in southern China's Guangdong Province, local health officials said Wednesday.

Beginning Sunday morning, dozens of people who ate sandwiches and toast from the same bakery chain reported stomachache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and fever, said doctors at Meizhou City People's Hospital. At least 70 people sought medical treatment at the hospital from Sunday to Tuesday.

Doctors reported that the patients were all in stable condition.

Preliminary investigation by local health supervision authorities showed all the food was produced by six chain stores under a local company, 100 Point Artistic Bakery.

The city government has suspended sales and production of the suspect food and organized recall efforts.

The investigation is still under way.

Meanwhile, more than 20 people had been hospitalized as of 10:00 AM Wednesday after drinking poison-tainted herb tea Tuesday evening in southern China's Beihai City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Eighteen of the patients were in stable condition, but two others were suffering heart arrhythmia, the hospital reported. Dr. Zhou Shilian said organic phosphate detoxification takes time, and it was too early to say when the two seriously ill men would recover.

The victims of the poisoning are residents of the Dushugen Community of Beihai, with the youngest being a three-year-old girl. They suffered vomiting, stomachache and dizziness after drinking herb tea at a nearby stand and were admitted to the Beihai City People's Hospital and the City Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Medical workers with the city's epidemic prevention center found methylamine phosphate in samples of the tea.

It is a summer tradition in Beihai City to drink herb tea to lower interior fever and drive away summer heat.

Local police are investigating the case.

(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2004)

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