Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thailand: Major Street Food Probe After Tourist's Toxic Seaweed Death

A quick update on my last blog about the tragic death of New Zealand backpacker Sarah Carter, who died after eating toxic seaweed at a street food stall in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Health officials are launching a full-scale investigation of food outlets in the city’s famous Night Bazaar, where Sarah, 23, (pictured above, centre) and her two friends Amanda Eliason, 24, (above, left) and Emma Langlands, 23, (above, right) ate.

Amanda, who also ate the seaweed, had emergency heart surgery and is now believed to be out of danger. Emma, who ordered a different meal from the stall, suffered food poisoning but is not seriously ill.

"We have never had such a case in Chiang Mai before," local public health chief Wattana Kanchanakamol said.

A preliminary report into Sarah’s death indicated a viral infection, he said. Experts are trying to track down the cause of the infection by collecting food samples from the Night Bazaar food market.

"The examination result is expected to be known in the next five days," Dr Wattana added.

He said one factor could be the fluctuating temperatures in Chiang Mai (it’s blindingly hot here during the day and chilly at night), which could result in food deteriorating more rapidly than expected.

Health officials are also being sent to other tourist areas around Chiang Mai to carry out food hygiene tests.

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