TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan recorded 6,944 instances of food poisoning last year, which marked a 23-year high, according to numbers released by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In 2019, there were 503 food poisoning incidents, leading to 6,944 people becoming ill, compared to 2018 when 398 cases caused 4,616 people to get sick, according to government figures cited by Liberty Times. Last year’s number of cases was also the second-highest since the country started keeping food poisoning records in 1981.
The highest number occurred in 1997. when 7,235 people were affected by food poisoning.
Among last year’s cases, 4,000 people came down with food poisoning while at school. Most of these were linked to the large group meals served during lunchtime.
The FDA also noted that two cases last year resulted in death: the first resulted from accidentally using a poisonous toad to make frog soup, while the second was caused by ingesting a poisonous mushroom. Prior to that, the last time someone in the country had died from food poisoning was in 2011.
According to the director of Clinical Toxicology and Occupational Medicine at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Yang Chen-chang (楊振昌), people may confuse frogs with toads and eat them by mistake. He added that people also used to intentionally eat poisonous toads because they believed it would help clear up skin problems.
Dr. Yang also said that in recent years, as more people have begun to take in interest in nature and outdoor activities, some have the misconception that only brightly colored mushrooms or plants are poisonous. He pointed out that accidental poisoning from ingesting wild plants and mushrooms has been increasing and reminded people not to take chances when out in nature.
In the case of accidental ingestion of poisonous plants or mushrooms, be sure to keep a sample and seek immediate medical attention, so that the proper medicine can be administered, Yang added.