Nine people from the same family have lost their lives in China after consumption of homemade corn noodles.

The family had consumed a local dish known as suantangzi in the beginning of this month at the northeastern province named Heilongjiang. All nine people fell sick several hours after consuming the food which is prepared from fermented corn flour.

Three younger members of the family did not consume the food. It is believed the homemade food had been frozen in the family’s refrigerator for about one year.

Presence of Bongkrekic acid was found in the noodles and in samples collected from patients.

Bongkrekic acid is produced by the bacterium, Burkholderia cocovenenans, It is thermostable and cannot be eliminated by washing. It has been connected to outbreaks of foodborne illness entailing coconut- and corn-based products in Indonesia and China. Contaminated foods don’t look, smell, and taste spoiled.

Patients suffering from bongkrekic acid poisoning may develop symptoms such as abdominal pain and vomiting. In more severe cases, it might lead to disturbed liver function and even death.

In January 2015, 234 people became ill and 75 died after drinking pombe, a traditional alcoholic beverage in a town of Mozambique.

Toxic levels of bongkrekic acid were found in the drink and Burkholderia cocovenenans were detected in the flour used to make it, as per a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Another 2019-published study reported five cases of bongkrekic acid-induced food poisoning caused by consumption of rice noodles, a famous traditional food in Guangdong, China. All infected people required hospitalization and three of them died.

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