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October 19, 2009

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Hunt for nitrite after diner dies in Pudong

OFFICIALS are investigating the source of the nitrite which killed one man and poisoned another 25 migrant workers after eating lunch at a snack bar in Pudong New Area over the weekend. All the survivors were released from hospital yesterday.

The owner of the unlicensed store, called Zhibin in Caozhen Town, has been detained, said Pudong government officials. The snack bar has been closed and 25 kilograms of cooked food were confiscated by Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau.

Zhu Weibiao, 38, was found asleep by his brother-in-law about 4pm on Saturday after eating lunch at the store, but he was sweating and pale. "I talked to him," said the relative, surnamed Tian. "He said everything would be all right."

But he started vomiting and later died. Doctors will run tests to confirm nitrite poisoning. All those who fell ill started vomiting after eating. They were treated at Pudong New Area People's Hospital.

Bureau officials said salted chicken and bean curd with sauce from the shop were found to contain excessive levels of nitrite.

The food samples have been sent to Pudong Center for Disease Control and Prevention for further tests.

The store had no business license, officials said.

"We suspect that industrial salt has been added to the food for seasoning," said official Sui Bo.

Victims of nitrite poisoning usually turn blue and have headaches, choking, feel short of breath and vomit.

The government is seeking other victims nearby, and the bureau has blitzed the area for unlicensed snack bars, closing several operated by migrant workers, officials said.

In September, 66 people fell ill with nitrite poisoning after eating a boxed lunch at a factory in Qingpu District. No one died in that case.


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