Poisoning in an Ontario restaurant | Mr. Right galangal powder recalled nationwide

The spice implicated in the food poisoning of 12 diners at a restaurant in Markham, Ontario, is the subject of a national recall, and has been distributed in several provinces, including Quebec.

Posted yesterday at 8:58 p.m.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said a recall has been issued for Mr. Right brand Galangal Powder (Keampferia Galanga) due to aconitine contamination.

Aconitine comes from certain plants and roots that contain alkaloids, toxins that can cause a serious form of illness.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said Friday that the recalled product, which is a common spice in Asian cuisine, has been sold in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, and may have been distributed in other provinces and territories.

No other cases of illness have been reported outside of Ontario at this time.

York Region’s medical officer of health said 12 people were taken to hospital and four were treated in intensive care on Sunday within an hour of eating a chicken dish with the tainted spice from the Delight Restaurant and BBQ.

The Dr Barry Pakes confirmed on Thursday that the spice tested positive for the toxin aconitine in a public health investigation at the restaurant in Markham.

He said other packages of the Mr. Right brand Keampferia Galanga powder were found to be negative, but the distributor voluntarily recalled the product.

Public health officials continue to recommend disposing of the product, regardless of package code, out of “an excess of caution,” Pakes said.

“We don’t know if there has been any cross-contamination of this product, and the consequences of consuming even a small amount are very serious,” he said.

A guest remained in hospital Thursday afternoon, although his condition was improving, according to Mr Pakes.

Symptoms associated with aconitine poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, irregular heartbeats, and in severe cases, death.

The restaurant was re-inspected and cleared to reopen by local public health officials.

In March, the British Columbia Poisons Information Center and the Fraser Health Authority warned the public not to consume Wing Hing brand faux galangal powder after two people were hospitalized and then got their hospital discharge.

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