Over 100 sick in China as too many cooks spoil broth

BEIJING (Reuters) - Some 170 wedding banquet guests were rushed to hospital in north China when powdered rust remover was added to the pot instead of salt after they all decided it needed added flavor, Chinese media said.

In a bizarre coincidence, 61 wedding guests were taken to hospital with similar symptoms a day earlier after a duck-and-donkey-meat banquet in northwest China.

In the rust remover case, the bride’s proud father invited 170 friends and relatives to the wedding banquet at a village in northern Hebei province on Friday, the night before the nuptials, the Beijing News said.

“All food was stewed in a big pot but after dinner started, all of them felt the taste was too bland,” the newspaper said.

Someone added what he or she thought was salt -- several times. An hour later, the guests were being rushed to hospital.

“When I arrived at the hospital, the observation room was packed with people vomiting, with stomach pains and with diarrhea,” a doctor was quoted as saying.

The symptoms were short-lived and all the victims were released by the next day.

A day earlier, 61 wedding guests suffered food poisoning at a banquet in impoverished Gansu province, local authorities said.

“Currently, 17 people have been discharged but 44 are still in the hospital. No one has died,” Xinhua news agency quoted an official as saying.

Duck, donkey meat, chicken and shrimp were the main dishes served at the dinner.

China has been hit by a series of food-safety scares in recent years, most recently when thousands of infants fell sick from contaminated milk powder. At least four died.

Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie and Paul Tait