In a shocking incident, nine members of the same family in China died after they consumed homemade corn noodles that were kept in the freezer for a year, according to reports.
Authorities stated that the noodles had developed a poisonous substance called bongkrekic acid. The possibility of intentional poisoning was ruled out. After the incident, the National Health Commission urgently issued a warning stating that fermented flour should not be used for making food.
In the first week of October, the family of 12, living in the Jixi city of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, had gathered for breakfast. The noodles that they consumed are called Suantangzi and were homemade. The family's younger members did not eat the noodles as they did not like the taste. Suantangzi is a thick type of noodle made using fermented corn flour.
Noodles turn poison
The members were rushed to the hospital after they felt unwell. Out of the nine people, who were taken to the hospital, seven died on October 10 after all treatment failed and two days later, the eighth victim was declared dead.
It was on October 19 that the last surviving family member who ate the soup passed away. She was known by her surname Li.
The toxic noodle soup indeed didn't prove as a delicacy for the family as the high concentration of bongkrekic acid is produced by the bacterium pseudomonas cocovenenans, a respiratory toxin, was not only found in the noodles but also in the gastric fluid of those who died, according to the doctors.
Toxic substance that caused deaths
According to Fan Zhihong, an associate professor of China's Agricultural University, the main cause of poisoning from fermented rice products and flour is bongkrekic acid, which is extremely toxic, resistant to high temperatures, and cannot be removed even if thoroughly cooked.
Reports state that both animals and humans get affected by bongkrekic acid and eating food contaminated with this can result in poisoning and it has a mortality rate of as high as 40 to 100 per cent.
Gao Fei, director of food safety at the Heilongjiang Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the acid can cause serious damage to many human organs including the liver, kidneys, heart, and brain.