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235 Chinese Killed by Food Poisoning in 2005: Report

A total of 235 Chinese were killed by food poisoning last year, down 16.7 percent from 2004, said the Ministry of Health on Monday.

In 2005, 9,021 people were stricken by food poisoning, a drop of 38.2 percent from the previous year. The ministry received 256 food poisoning incidents, 18 of which involved more than 100 victims, according to a report released by the ministry.

Among the reported incidents last year, 43 percent of those stricken ate food contaminated by bacteria, mainly due to unsanitary processing and handling, said the report which also blamed a lack of public awareness.

Poisoning by chemicals in food contributed to 32.8 percent of the total reported cases and 45.1 percent of the total deaths.

About 38.8 percent of the affected people eat the poisoned food in canteens, while 85.5 percent of the fatalities occurred at peoples homes. Rural homes have become a "high-risk" place of food poisoning, according to the report.

Food poisoning in school canteens were mostly due to the poor food handling facilities and health knowledge of staff and improper cooking.

Home-made food poisoning may have been caused by accidental contamination of toxic animals or plants, improper processing and deliberate poisoning, explains the report, noting that poor medical conditions and late treatment were blamed for the high fatality rate in the rural areas.

As a greater number of food poisoning incidents and deaths caused by accidental eating of toxic animals and plants were reported than in 2004, the ministry urges health authorities to promote public awareness of the dangers.

(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2006)

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