Experts Question Garment Plant Food Poisoning

Most of the textile workers hospitalized Monday night for suspected food poisoning re­turned to work Wednesday, but some medical experts said they were uncertain the workers’ symp­toms were the result of eating bad food.

“It’s difficult to say still what kind of bacteria it was or where it came from,” said Kevin Hsieh, manager of the Ta Cheng Hos­pital on Mao Tse Tung Boule­vard, where more than 200 garment workers were taken for treatment. “But it doesn’t seem like simple food poisoning.”

Six hundred workers from the Suntex textile factory in the Dangkao district of Phnom Penh sought medical treatment Mon­day night after eating an end-of-shift meal provided by the Sing­a­porean factory.

“It almost seems like some sort of nerve poisoning with the headaches, the weakness and the abdomen pains,” Kevin Hsieh said. “Maybe it was the water, the air, or some gas. They have to in­vestigate the environment.”

Municipal officials said Tues­day that pesticides may be in­volved, but they won’t know until the Municipal Medical Depart­ment gets test results back on Friday, according to Veng Thai, director of the department.

“I’m not sure about food poisoning,” Veng Thai said. “All the workers tend to get sick when a few of their colleagues do.”

The Pasteur Institute is also con­ducting tests, but they said the quality of their sample might prevent them from determining the cause of the illness, according to municipal officials.

Institute representatives re­fused to comment on the test re­sults Wednesday.

Albert Tan, general manager of Suntex, said the illness did not appear to be serious, but doctors at the factory are monitoring the workers’ recovery. He said the Ministry of Health was already investigating all possible causes of illness, but one ministry official could not confirm this Wednes­­day.

(Additional reporting by Phann Ana)




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