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Contaminated Vinegar Suspected In Death Of 11 Chinese

China is facing yet another case of contaminated food. This time authorities believe vinegar tainted with antifreeze is responsible for the death of 11 Muslims who ingested it at a Ramadan meal.

Reuters reports that the vinegar was stored in plastic barrels that contained antifreeze. Reuters adds:

Police said residents of Sangzhu village, near Hotan, in the vast region that is home to many ethnic Uighur Muslims, had consumed the toxic vinegar on Saturday during a large Ramadan feast, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Authorities were still investigating the poisoning, which killed at least one six-year-old child.

"(An) initial probe shows that villagers ate vinegar from two plastic barrels which were used to contain antifreeze, before feeling sick," Xinhua said, though it added the cause has not been officially confirmed.

The Guardian has a bit more on China's food safety record:

China's food safety record has been battered by the rampant use of illegal or substandard additives by unscrupulous food producers. Milk powder laced with the industrial chemical melamine killed at least six children and made 300,000 ill in 2008. Producers added the nitrogen-rich melamine powder so their milk would seem higher in protein.

Revenge attacks using rat poison or other chemicals are also common in China, where access to firearms and other deadly weapons is tightly controlled. In April, three children died and 35 others became ill after drinking milk tainted with nitrite. An investigation showed that a local dairy farmer had put the poison into a competitor's milk supply.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.