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Ninety Fall Ill in Southern China

June 16, 2004

BEIJING (AP) _ At least 70 people became sick in southern China after eating sandwiches from a bakery chain. Twenty others were hospitalized after they drank herb tea containing pesticide, the government said.

The customers of 100 Point Artistic Bakery in Meizhou, a city in Guangdong province, complained of stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Most were in stable condition after treatment at the Meizhou City People’s Hospital between Sunday and Tuesday, Xinhua said, citing doctors.

Local authorities have suspended the sale and production of the suspect food and have organized a recall. An investigation was under way, Xinhua said.

Meanwhile, more than 20 people were in stable condition in the city of Beihai in the Guangxi region after drinking the herb tea, Xinhua said.

The victims _ who ranged in age from 3 to 60 years old _ began vomiting and feeling dizzy after drinking the tea from a street vendor Tuesday night, it said.

The report did not give the exact number of people sickened.

Xinhua said investigators found traces of pesticide in the tea but it was not immediately clear if the chemical had been put in the beverage on purpose.

A man who answered the telephone at the Beihai police department said he had no information on the case. He would give only his surname, Liu.

Such mass cases of poisoning are reported frequently in China and are blamed on both lax food safety and intentional poison attacks prompted by feuds or business disputes.

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