A family in China had suffered from food poisoning and left nine members dead after they ate the noodles that had been in a freezer for a year. They ate the fermented dish called Suantangzi on October 5.

Family severe food poisoning

On October 10, seven adults from Jixi in northeastern China had died. An eight family member died on October 12, and the ninth family member died on October 19. However, three children were spared after they refused to eat the noodles when it was served to them due to the taste, according to Daily Star.

Th director of food safety at the Heilongjiang Center for Disease Control and Prevent, Gao Fei, told China News Service that the family members died because of bongkrek acid poisoning, which is often fatal.

The symptoms of bongkrek acid poisoning usually begin within a few hours of eating contaminated food, and it includes stomach pain, general weakness, sweating, and eventual coma.

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Gao said that bongkrek acid poisoning could cause serious damage to human organs, including kidneys, the liver, brain, and heart. There is no antidote to it. Once one is poisoned, the fatality rate can be as high as 40% to 100%.

The person who is poisoned can die within 24 hours of eating the food. Bongkrek acid is a respiratory toxin that is produced in fermented coconut that is contaminated by bacteria, according to Independent.Co.

Similar case

In January 2015, four patients were rushed to the Chitima Health Center in Tete Province, Mozambique, after they all experienced abdominal pain, sudden weakness, and diarrhea.

Within 24 hours, 47 more patients were rushed to the hospital, having the same symptoms. In 96 hours, around 234 people became very ill, and 75 patients died. The patients reported attending a funeral ceremony, and they drank pombe, a locally brewed alcoholic beverage made from corn flour.

The World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Tete Provincial Health Department, and the Mozambique Ministry of Health all investigated the outbreak, as reported by Oxford Clinical Infectious Diseases.

According to the forensic pathologists that performed autopsies on the two deceased patients, aside from the gross examination, they obtained tissue specimens of the spleen, brain, stomach, small and large intestines, heart, lung, pancreas, liver, and kidney.

Scientists also collected a sample of the pombe that was given to the patients before they were hospitalized. The samples were tested for numerous toxic and biologic substances, including heavy metals, pesticides, cyanide, volatile compounds, and methanol.

The analyses of the flour and pombe samples at the US FDA Forensic Chemistry Center confirmed the presence of bongkrekic acid or BA in the pombe and corn flour, as well as two other toxins, toxoflavin, and isobongkrekic acid or iBA.

The three toxins are pre-formed mitochondrial toxins produced by Burkholderia gladioli pathovar cocovenenans. The control pombe was negative for all of the three toxins. The Burkholderia was found in the corn flour, and the fungus Rhizopus oryzae was isolated from the corn flour.

The case is considered as the first outbreak of bongkrek acid poisoning. Medical experts are encouraging the public to be more careful with the food and drink they intake and make sure that they are fresh.

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