CHP investigates suspected food poisoning case related to calcium oxalate raphide

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (January 8) investigating a case of suspected food poisoning and reminded the public not to pick or consume wild plants, and beware of vegetables containing calcium oxalate raphide to avoid food poisoning due to accidental consumption of giant alocasia.
    The female patient, aged 50, developed a sore throat and hoarseness of voice shortly after consuming a wild taro at home yesterday (January 7). She attended the Accident and Emergency Department of United Christian Hospital today and was admitted for further treatment on the same day. She is now in stable condition. The clinical diagnosis was suspected calcium oxalate raphide poisoning.
    Initial investigations revealed that the patient had consumed wild taro picked from a hillside near Jordan Valley Park. The CHP's investigation is ongoing.
     Taro is a popular ingredient used to prepare various dishes and desserts. However, some plants look like taro (e.g. giant alocasia) but contain toxins which can cause food poisoning. Consuming plants 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 a 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 take heed of the following when consuming vegetables:
  • Do not pick or consume wild plants;
  • Purchase vegetables from reliable suppliers; and
  • Remove any plants mixed with edible vegetables and wash them thoroughly before cooking and consumption.
     ​​The public may visit the pages on Food Poisoning Related to the Giant Alocasia and Calcium Oxalate Food Poisoning of the Centre for Food Safety of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department for more information and health advice.

Ends/Monday, January 8, 2024
Issued at HKT 17:00