Almost 300 people in Shanghai appear to have been poisoned by pork containing an animal-feed additive, sources with the municipal health authorities announced on Friday afternoon.
A total of 278 people were hospitalized in the Pudong New Area in five local hospitals but most have been discharged, said officials with the New Area's food and drug supervision bureau. Only around a dozen people remain in hospital for further observation.
The patients' symptoms ranging from dizziness and fatigue to racing pulses muscular tremors resemble the symptoms for clenbuterol poisoning, a dangerous animal-feed additive, said Zhu Changqing, head of the emergency department of Renjin Hospital.
The feed additive, dubbed "Shouroujing", in Chinese literately means lean meat essence for pigs and is used to prevent pigs from accumulating fat.
Patients reported eating pork, pig liver and other pig organs, with 128 of them having had lunch at their work unit canteen before developing the symptoms, pointing another damning finger at collective food preparation techniques.
The Pudong food and drug supervision bureau said blood samples have been collected from the patients for testing with results expected to be released in three days.
China has banned the use of "Shouroujing" as an additive in pig feed since the chemical is poisonous to humans and can be fatal. Yet, it seems enforcement of this ban is still sorely lacking.
(Xinhua News Agency September 19, 2006)