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Thai health officials baffled by pad thai poisoning complaint

Jul 11. 2019
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By The Nation

The Public Health Ministry on Thursday instructed all provincial health offices to strictly enforce the “Clean Food Good Taste” standard after tourists posted complaints on social media about food poisoning.

Dr Sukhum Kanchanapimai, permanent secretary of the ministry, also said that though an Australian couple’s claim of being hit by the parasite dientamoeba fragilis after consuming pad thai at a food court in Phuket two years ago cannot be proven, it does not mean that Thailand is completely free of this parasite. 

“This parasite is in the environment everywhere, even in Australia,” he said, adding that according to Thailand’s medical database, nobody has been affected by this parasite for the past 20 years. 

“Normally the parasite can be destroyed under heat, so it is not likely to harm us. Pad thai, which is cooked on high flames, is unlikely to have this issue,” Sukhum said, adding that Thailand implemented the “Clean Food Good Taste” standard to protect Thais and tourists. 

Disease Control Department chief Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai also confirmed the dientamoeba fragilis parasite can be found everywhere, adding that it only affects people if they are repeatedly exposed to it or if the patient’s immunity is weakened. He added that it cannot be ascertained where the tourists picked up the parasite, because Thailand has not had a case of dientamoeba fragilis infection in the past 20 years. 

Dr Panpimol Wipulakorn, director-general of the Department of Health, said the Public Health Ministry oversees and certifies the quality of food sold nationwide based on four criteria: kitchen and related facilities; cooking; cleanliness of containers and utensils; and the hygiene of the cook. 

So far, 85 per cent of restaurants and eateries across the country have passed the “Clean Food Good Taste” standard, while 93 per cent of the food sellers in Phuket hold the stamp as of last year, she added.

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