Nitrite-laden meat made kids ill: FDA
The amount of nitrite in sausages produced at a Chon Buri factory whch made children in several provinces ill was 35-48 times higher than what is considered a safe level, says the Food and Drug Administration.
Weerachai Nolwachai, its deputy secretary-general, said the high level of nitrite, which is added as a preservative, led to nine children from Chiang Mai, Saraburi, Phetchaburi, Trang and Kanchanaburi provinces being hospitalised early this month.
The children were diagnosed with methaemoglobinemia, a blood disorder caused by elevated levels of a form of haemoglobin.
The FDA is working with provincial public health agencies to collect sausage samples in every province as it tests them for safety. Currently, 102 samples have been collected from 66 provinces. The FDA is now awaiting lab test results, said Mr Weerachai.
Meanwhile, sausages with no label have been found in Saraburi, Uthai Thani and Ayutthaya. However, it was determined the sausages sold in Saraburi were produced at the same factory in Chon Buri while the sausages in Uthai Thani were produced by another facility in Ayutthaya.
The findings led to a police raid at two sausage factories in Ayutthaya. Police found both factories were operating without proper permission. They seized assets worth a total of 4.3 million baht.
Provincial public health agencies have since instructed sausage producers to follow FDA guidelines regarding the use of preservatives.
He said producers must obtain permits for their factories to verify that each site adheres to good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and that consumer safety protocols are followed.
Mr Weerachai added that consumers should check packaging for an official FDA seal which will include registration numbers, producer information, manufacturing and expiration dates.
Police say the owner of the sausage factory in Chon Buri has been charged with violating the Food Act by producing food products that failed to follow GMPs, a violation carrying a fine of up to 10,000 baht; and displaying false product labels which carries a fine of up to 30,000 baht.
The owner also face a charge of producing contaminated food products, which carries a penalty of up to two years in prison.