CHP investigates suspected food poisoning related to calcium oxalate raphide

Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (February 8) investigating a case of suspected food poisoning, and hence reminded the public to beware of vegetables containing calcium oxalate raphide.

     The female patient, aged 37, developed a burning sensation of the mouth, throat, lips and tongue, and swelling and numbness of the lips, gum and tongue, as well as vomiting, shortly after consuming a wild taro-like plant on February 7 at home in Kwai Tsing. She attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Princess Margaret Hospital on the same day. She is now in a stable condition. The clinical diagnosis was suspected calcium oxalate raphide poisoning.

     Initial investigations revealed that the patient had consumed the wild taro-like plant after seeing and picking it near her residence. The CHP's investigation is ongoing.

     Taro is a popular ingredient used to prepare various dishes and desserts. However, some plants look like taro but contain toxins which can cause food poisoning. Those containing calcium oxalate raphide (a needle-shaped crystal of the chemical) can injure the skin and mucous membranes and cause irritation, such as numbness and burning sensation of the tongue, mouth and lips, and swelling of the tongue and lips. Consumption of vegetables accidentally mixed with calcium oxalate raphide-containing plants may also cause food poisoning.

     Members of the public should:
  • Not pick and consume wild plants;
  • Purchase vegetables from reliable suppliers;
  • Remove any plants mixed with edible vegetables and wash them thoroughly before cooking and consumption; and
  • Ensure vegetables are thoroughly cooked before eating.

     The public may visit the pages on" target="_blank">Food Poisoning Related to the Giant Alocasia and" target="_blank">Calcium Oxalate Food Poisoning of the Centre for Food Safety of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department for more information and health advice.

Published on: 2018-02-08

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