Public Health Notice: Aconitine toxin found in galanga powder in Ontario with possible implications for other jurisdictions

September 27, 2022 – Final update

This notice has been updated to reflect that the outbreak appears to be over and the outbreak investigation has been closed.

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Why you should take note

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) collaborated with provincial and territorial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada to investigate several illnesses resulting from an imported spice product containing aconitine in the province of Ontario. The outbreak appears to be over and the outbreak investigation has been closed.

Investigation findings identified Mr. Right brand Keampferia galanga powder (sand ginger powder), a common spice used in Asian cuisine, which contained aconitine toxin, as the cause of the illnesses. Aconitine derives from certain plants and plant roots that contain alkaloid toxins and can cause severe illness, and even death.

The CFIA issued a food recall warning for Mr. Right brand Keampferia galanga powder (sand ginger powder). The product was sold in 454 g packages, with UPC code 69 892102 8038, product code AT154 and code CAAJ13 on the label. The recalled product was distributed in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, and may have been distributed in other provinces and territories.

Spices have a long shelf-life and the recalled product may still be in people's homes, businesses or food service establishments. Canadians are advised not to eat any recalled food products, including the recalled Keampferia galanga powder (sand ginger powder) and any products made with the recalled Keampferia galanga powder. Restaurants and retailers are also advised not to sell or serve the recalled spice, or any items that may have been prepared or produced using the recalled product.

Investigation summary

In total, there were 11 individuals in Ontario who experienced symptoms consistent with aconitine poisoning after consuming a restaurant meal where the recalled product was used. No deaths were reported, but five individuals were hospitalized after consuming their meal.

The CFIA issued a food recall warning for Mr. Right brand Keampferia galanga powder (sand ginger powder). For more information on the recalled product, please consult the Government of Canada Recalls and Safety Alerts website.

What you should do to protect your health

The following advice applies to individuals, as well as retailers, distributors, manufacturers and food service establishments such as hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals and long-term care homes, across Canada. This product has a long shelf life and may still be in people's homes, businesses or food service establishments:

Symptoms

Consumption of aconitine toxin can have a wide range of symptoms. In most cases, symptom onset is rapid and individuals can become seriously ill quickly, requiring hospitalization. Individuals who require hospitalization can recover, but severe outcomes, such as death, are possible.

Symptoms can appear within minutes to hours after consumption of aconitine toxin and can include:

More severe clinical presentations are also possible.

If you suspect you have been exposed to the recalled product and are experiencing symptoms, see a health care provider immediately.

What the Government of Canada is doing

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health of Canadians from foodborne illness outbreaks.

PHAC leads the human health investigation into an outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal, provincial and territorial partners to monitor the situation and to collaborate on steps to address an outbreak.

Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine whether the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.

CFIA conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.

Additional information

Investigation history

Public Health Notice: September 2, 2022

Why you should take note

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is collaborating with provincial and territorial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada to investigate several illnesses resulting from an imported spice product containing aconitine in the province of Ontario.

Based on the investigation findings to date, the illnesses are linked to Mr. Right brand Keampferia Galanga Powder (sand ginger powder), a common spice used in Asian cuisine, which contained aconitine toxin. Aconitine is derived from certain plants and plant roots that contain alkaloid toxins and can cause severe illness, and even death.

The CFIA has issued a food recall warning for Mr. Right brand Keampferia Galanga Powder (sand ginger powder). The product is sold in 454 g packages, with UPC code 69 892102 8038, product code AT154 and code CAAJ13 on the label. The recalled product has been sold in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, and may have been distributed in other provinces and territories. Although there have been no illnesses reported outside the province of Ontario at this time, the distribution and use of this product could result in illnesses in other jurisdictions.

Do not eat, use, sell, or serve the recalled keampferia galanga powder (sand ginger powder) or any products made with the recalled keampferia galanga powder (sand ginger powder). This advice applies to individuals, as well as retailers, distributors, manufacturers and food service establishments such as hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals and long-term care homes, across Canada.

This public health notice will be updated as the investigation evolves.

Investigation summary

As of September 2, 2022, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is aware of 11 individuals in Ontario who experienced symptoms consistent with aconitine poisoning after consuming a restaurant meal where the recalled product was used. No deaths have been reported, but five individuals were hospitalized after consuming their meal.

On September 1, 2022, the CFIA issued a food recall warning for Mr. Right brand Keampferia Galanga Powder (sand ginger powder). For more information on the recalled product, please consult CFIA's website. The CFIA is continuing its food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings.

Media contact

Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations
613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Public inquiries

Call toll-free: 1-866-225-0709
Email: info@hc-sc.gc.ca

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