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Free soup puts 350 in hospital with food poisoning

Novice Buddhist monks prepare food for devotees during a religious ceremony for becoming “donlaba” — temporary monks — at a Buddhist monastery in Rangoon on 10 April 2016. (Photo: AFP)

A free lunch for villagers in southern Burma turned sour after it landed more than a third of the rural community in hospital with food poisoning, local officials said Friday.

Hundreds of villagers from Eain Ta Lone, west of Rangoon, fell ill after eating fish stew served at a Buddhist ceremony to celebrate the ordination of local novices.

The entire 1,000-person village was bundled over to the nearest hospital, where 367 were admitted for treatment, said charity worker Wai Lin Aung, who helped to transport the villagers.

Many were vomiting and some described aches and pains all over their body, he added.

“They felt like that after eating stewed hilsa [a type of fish] and cassia soup at the donation.”

The sick returned home later on Thursday and were recovering, Myaung Mya Township chief administrator Aung Kyaw Zaya told AFP.

“They are all back in the village now. We are monitoring the whole village to see if there are any other health problems.”

Burma has a poor food safety record and visitors to the country often complain of food poisoning. Tests of street food in the largest city Rangoon reportedly found around a third of it contained stomach-churning bacteria.