Pâté sandwiches leave hundreds sick in Binh Thuan

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More than 200 people were rushed to the hospital with severe food poisoning after eating homemade pâté sandwiches at two local shops in Binh Thuan Province, the local health department has said.

Binh Thuan authorities forced local resident Vo Thi Cam Tu to close her Cam Tu bread shop in Bac Binh District indefinitely on Wednesday after finding discovering nearly 180 of the patients had eaten at the establishment prior to becoming sick. 

"The main cause of the poisoning was pâté," the Bac Binh Preventive Health Center was quoted by the press as saying on Friday

Cam Tu shop, based in Cho Lau Town, self-processed all the paste and meat in their sandwiches, said the center's director Dinh The Hung.

Bui Thi Phuong Binh, who lives next to the Cam Tu shop, said she bought two loaves of bread from the shop on Monday, one plain and another with stuffing including the pate.

She ate the stuffed one and got sick while her child ate the other loaf with an omelet and was fine, Binh said.

More than 170 people in Cho Lau were admitted to the province general hospital between Monday and Wednesday with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and headaches. They had all eaten sandwiches from Cam Tu on Sunday.

The hospital said it had treated 173 people in the case but many more had treated themselves at home or visited private clinics.

Nguyen Quang Thoa, deputy director of the hospital, said this was the first mass poisoning case he had seen after 20 years working in the district. Rooms for in-patients at the Infectious Diseases Department were filled to the brim and the hospital had some patients lying on the floor in the halls, he said.

Forty others in Hong Thai Commune were hospitalized the same way after they ate sandwiches from Thuy Giang shop in Dang Thi Chau Giang, which bought its pâté from Cam Tu.

Giang's shop has also been indefinitely closed.

"There are problems in the way Tu makes pâté," Hung said.

"It's very lucky Tu has only supplied her homemade pâté to Giang, or many more people would have been poisoned."

Cam Tu shop is known as a popular sandwich shop in Cho Lau and has been granted food safety and hygiene certificates. Bread at the shop is a favorite breakfast among local residents.

Authorities are inspecting the pâté to pinpoint the cause of the poisoning.

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