Mis­sion­ar­ies’ do­na­tion causes mass food poi­son­ing in Ban­teay Meanchey

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Long Kim­marita

OVER one hun­dred pupils aged be­tween six and 12 in Ban­teay Meanchey prov­ince si­mul­ta­ne­ously con­tracted food poi­son­ing on Fri­day, after eat­ing packed rice do­nated by Korean mis­sion­ar­ies.

Of the 142 pupils from Poy Sam­rong pri­mary school in Preah Netr Preah dis­trict’s Preah Netr Preah com­mune who con­tracted food poi­son­ing, 12 are still re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal treat­ment at the dis­trict re­fer­ral hos­pi­tal.

Di st r ic t deput y pol ic e ch ief Het h Ch­hun­hai told The Post on Sun­day that the cause of the out­break was a do­na­tion of r ice by Ko­rea n st udents v isit i ng as mis­sion­ar­ies.

“Korean Chris­tian mis­sion­ar­ies vis­ited t he chil­dren and t hey of­fered t hem rice. Im­me­di­ately a f ter eat ing t he r ice, t he chil­dren were ta ken to hos­pita l as t hey be­came de­hy­drated and weak as they were vom­it­ing and had di­ar­rhoea,” he said.

Ch­hun­hai con­tin­ued that au­thor­i­ties sent the food to a lab­o­ra­tory, con­clud­ing that veg­eta­bles in the rice car­ried chem­i­cals that made the chil­dren ill.

The mis­sion­ar­ies said they bought the food in t he prov ince’s Sisophon tow n a nd cooked it t hem­selves. Aut horit ies ques­tioned the mis­sion­ar­ies but did not de­tain them, a llow ing them to re­turn to Ko­rea.

Poy Sam­rong pri­mary school di­rec­tor Vath Vong could not be reached for com­ment, but he ear­lier con­firmed to a lo­cal on­line me­dia out­let that the Korean stu­dents vis­ited the school to pro­mote the Chris­tian faith.

“They played games with chil­dren in ad­di­tion to dis­tribut­ing candy, rice, drink­ing wa­ter and T-shirts,” he said.

In 2017, over 300 peo­ple in Pur­sat prov­ince’s Phnom Kra­vanh dis­trict were hos­pi­talised after eat­ing con­tam­i­nated food at an event. Sim­i­larly, in Novem­ber last year over 50 stu­dents at a pri­mary school in Kam­pong Thom prov­ince’s Stoung dis­trict was sent to the hos­pi­tal after eat­ing con­tam­i­nated food at school.

Ban­teay Meanchey prov in­cia l co­or­di­na­tor for r ig ht s g roup Ad hoc, Su m Chankea, said au­thor­i­ties seem in­ca­pable of prevent­ing in­ci­dents of mass food poi­son­ing.

He ex­pressed worry that such in­ci­dents will con­tinue with greater fre­quency in fu­ture and stressed that gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are re­spon­si­ble for prevent­ing the prob­lem.

“They only put ef­fort into prevent­ing it once the prob­lem has al­ready hap­pened, but be­fore it has hap­pened they pay very lit­tle at­ten­tion to it. The as­sis­tance they are of­fer­ing at the mo­ment is a good thing, but the at­ten­tion should be given be­fore it hap­pens,” he said.

A Min­istry of Health re­port said that be­tween 2015 and 2017, 47 peo­ple died of food poi­son­ing in the King­dom. An­other 3,777 re­ported suf­fer­ing se­ri­ous in­ci­dents of food poi­son­ing.


Over one hun­dred pupils in Ban­teay Meanchey prov­ince si­mul­ta­ne­ously con­tract food poi­son­ing after eat­ing packed rice do­nated by Korean mis­sion­ar­ies.

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