Thailand: Contaminated silkworms poison 118

By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The Nation
Published on January 27, 2009

Source of Article:

Some 118 people have fallen ill, with 60 being admitted to hospital, after consuming fried silkworm that believed to be contaminated with the toxic substance histamine.

It is believed the chemical can cause immune system disorders and allergies.

Most of the patients suffered facial swelling, vomiting, blurred vision, numbness around the mouth, exhaustion and skin rash, the Public Health Ministry's epidemiologist, Anek Mong-oomklang, said.

He presented the case at a three-day conference entitled "Mobilise Epidemiology to Health Policy Development" organised by the Department of Disease Control.

Anek and his team studied the epidemiological effects of food poisoning by collecting samples of silkworm at the Rong-Klua market - a hub for insect trade - at the border province of Sa Kaew.

After hearing that one of the employees of a shop importing insects from China had fallen ill from eating a fried silkworm, they sent the insects for laboratory tests and discovered that most of the silkworms sold in Rong-Klua market were contaminated with histamines.

The level of histamine found in silkworm was 875 milligrams per kilogram, when, according to US food regulations, no more than 50mg/kg of histamine contamination can be allowed in fish, which is usually found contaminated. This is the first time that an insect has been found contaminated by this substance, Anek said.

The study also discovered that the insects were further contaminated by the bad conditions at Rong-Klua market and poor cooling systems.

The team has suggested that the government introduce stricter controls on the transportation fresh produce and improve sanitation at fresh markets.



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