This Ontario Restaurant May Never Open Again Due To Aconite Poisoning
At least 12 people fell seriously ill of suspected aconite poisoning, with four requiring treatment in intensive care, after eating at Delight Restaurant & BBQ in Markham, Ont., on the weekend. Five remained in hospital on Tuesday, and York Region Public Health said they were all expected to fully recover.
York Region’s medical officer of health Dr. Barry Pakes told reporters on Tuesday that he suspects that the diners may have ingested aconite, a plant-based toxin. Pakes asked anyone who may be experiencing symptoms of Aconite Poisoning after dining at the restaurant over the weekend to seek medical advice or call Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.
What is aconite?
Aconite is a highly toxic alkaloid substance derived from a type of plant called aconitum, also known as wolfsbane, queen of poisons, or monkshood. Aconitum is often grown as an ornamental garden plant.
Where is it found?
The highly-toxic substance can be found in the herbs, roots, or flowers of aconitum plants. It can also be found in some traditional Chinese medicines once processing methods have been used to eliminate the toxin. Aconitum can be found growing anywhere north of the equator.
What happens when you eat aconite?
Aconite poisoning acts on people’s nervous systems if ingested, which means it can affect many functions of the body.
Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, seizures, diarrhea, and deadly cardiac arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats. These symptoms usually appear less than an hour after the toxin is ingested.
Other symptoms included numbness in the face, mouth, and limbs, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, and cramping.
A small amount of pure aconite — or the amount found in a single flower head of the plant — is enough to kill a person if ingested.
So, yeah. It is toxic, to say the least. An amount basically the size of the head of a pin can be lethal.
What is the treatment for aconite poisoning?
There is no antidote for aconite poisoning.
But health care workers would support you through your symptoms and prevent, control, or relieve side effects. Patients who have trouble breathing can be put on a respirator, and patients can be treated for cardiac arrhythmias.
Because aconite ingestion can have a wide range of symptoms, health care workers might not be able to identify the toxin.
In the beginning, there would be a good chance you wouldn’t know what the cause was. And even if you knew what the cause was the treatment would still basically be the same. Instances of aconite poisoning are fairly rare.
How does aconite get mixed into food?
Aconite can occasionally be accidentally included in certain spices or herbal remedies. Public Health has no reason to think diners in Markham Ontario were intentionally given the toxin.
There was another incident in British Columbia earlier this year when the toxin was accidentally mixed into a ginger powder. In March, British Columbia’s poison information center and the Fraser Health Authority warned the public not to consume Wing Hing brand sand ginger powder after two people were hospitalized and later recovered.
I’ve worked in Chinese restaurants before, and I’ve seen some crazy shit happen in the kitchen. This story now reinforces my reason for never eating out in restaurants even more. At least the restaurants with closed-off kitchens from the customers.
It does seem that whenever a restaurant gets shut down it is usually a Chinese Restaurant too. Coincidence maybe? Well, I’d like to think so, but as I said, I have seen some crazy shit happen and will never eat in one of these restaurants.
Would you go back to eating at Delight Restaurant & BBQ after this incident? Would this stop you from eating at a Chinese Restaurant or any restaurant at all? Do you have an experience that you’ve had at a restaurant that you would like to share? Post your answers in the comments below.