Tainted Ice Cream Sends Dozens to Hospital in Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Region

By Salai Thant Zin 24 October 2019

PATHEIN, Ayeyarwady Region—Thirty-four students fell ill with food poisoning at a school in Ayeyarwady Region’s Labutta Township on Tuesday.

The students at No. 3 Basic Education High School complained of vomiting and nausea after reportedly consuming ice cream sold by a local ice cream maker. Following the incident, school authorities rushed the students to Labutta public hospital.

Seventeen students were discharged from the hospital later on Tuesday but the other 17 were treated through into Wednesday, said medical superintendent of the hospital Dr. Hnit Hsan Oo.

“They have all recovered, they are just staying at the hospital because their teachers and parents want to make sure that they are totally fine,” he told The Irrawaddy. “All the children are doing well and there is no risk of deaths.”

There were also reports of food poisoning among local residents who have consumed ice cream.

“Not only students but also local residents have suffered from poisoning,” said Labutta resident Ko Myo Naing. “They had to receive treatment at clinics. We don’t know exactly about the cause but all the individuals who have suffered from food poisoning had consumed ice cream.”

The ice cream in question is produced by a local businessman and distributed only within the township. It has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the Labutta Township FDA.

Following the incident, the township FDA sent a sample of the ice cream to the FDA headquarters in Yangon for lab tests. The township FDA has also instructed the ice cream maker to suspend production until a lab report is released.

This is the second mass food poisoning in three years in Ayeyarwady Region. In a case in March, 2017, over 250 people suffered from food poisoning after consuming meals at a communal novitiation ceremony, a novice monk ordination, in Myaungmya Township.

As the Myaungmya public hospital could not accommodate hundreds of patients at the same time, make-shift tents were built on the compound of the hospital with the assistance of local residents, and patients were given treatment outside the hospital.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko