A retail stall on Yan Hing Street, Tai Po, New Territories, was raided today (July 9) in a joint operation by the Department of Health (DH) and the Police for suspected illegal possession of Chinese herbal medicines (Chm) listed in Schedule 2 of the Chinese Medicine Ordinance (CMO) (Cap 549).
"The operation followed the DH's investigation of a cluster of suspected cases of poisoning involving three persons after consuming soup containing Radix Fici Simplicissimae purchased from the above stall," a spokesman for the DH said.
The cluster involves a man and two women who all consumed the same self-prepared soup on the morning of July 7. They felt dizzy and developed blurred vision about 30 minutes afterwards. The two women, aged 37 and 38, subsequently attended Yan Chai Hospital for management and both have already been discharged. The man, aged 30, did not seek medical attention and his symptoms subsided. All the affected persons are currently in a stable condition.
Urine samples of the two women have been collected pending laboratory testing.
"Investigations so far revealed that the Radix Fici Simplicissimae for sale at the stall had been mixed with impurities, which might be the cause of poisoning. Schedule 2 Chm were also found displaying at the scene. According to the record of the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong (CMCHK), the stall is not a licensed retailer of Schedule 2 Chm registered with the CMCHK," the spokesman said.
No other adverse reports in relation to the above food and herbal medicines have been received by the DH so far.
According to section 111 of the CMO, no person shall sell by retail, dispense to another person or possess for the purpose of retail any Chm specified in Schedule 2 without a retailer licence in respect of such Chm. The maximum penalty is a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment. In addition, section 54 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132) provides that no person shall have in his possession for the purpose of sale any drug intended for use by man but unfit for that purpose. An offender may be liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.
"Upon completion of investigations, the DH will work with the Department of Justice on prosecution matters," the spokesman added.
"Members of the public should buy food or herbal medicines from licensed shops with good reputation. If they feel unwell after taking food or herbal medicines purchased from the above stall, they should seek advice from healthcare professionals immediately," the spokesman added.
Ends/Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:23