A total of 235 Chinese died from food poisoning last year -- down 16.7 percent from 2004 said the Ministry of Health on Monday.
Last year 9,021 people were struck down by food poisoning which is a drop of 38.2 percent from the previous year. The authorities was alerted to 256 food poisoning incidents and 18 of these involved 100 victims or more according to a report released by the Ministry.
Among the reported incidents last year 43 percent of those stricken ate food contaminated by bacteria which was mainly due to unsanitary processing and handling, said the report which also highlighted a lack of public awareness on the subject.
Poisoning by chemicals in food contributed to 32.8 percent of the total reported cases and 45.1 percent of the deaths.
Just over 38 percent of the affected people ate the poisoned food in canteens, while 85.5 percent of the deaths actually occurred in the homes of people. Rural homes had become a "high-risk" location for food poisoning the report stated
Food poisoning in school canteens was attributed to the poor food handling facilities, improper cooking and a lack of knowledge among staff on hygiene standards.
Poisoning from home-made food could well have been caused by accidental contamination of animals and plants, improper processing and even deliberate poisoning, explains the report. It noted that poor medical conditions and late treatment were being blamed for the high fatality rate in rural areas.
As a greater number of food poisoning incidents and deaths were reported than in 2004 the Ministry urges health authorities to promote public awareness of the need to prepare food properly.
(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2006)