A poisoning case was reported after the consumption of soup that contained Radix Fici Simplicissimae in Hong Kong recently. The concerned Radix Fici Simplicissimae was bought in the Mainland and added to the soup prepared at home. The person affected developed symptoms of dizziness, palpitations, and muscle weakness after consumption of the self-prepared soup. As Radix Fici Simplicissimae resembles a toxic plant, Gelsemium elegans, it was suspected the poisoning case could be due to a mix-up of these plant species.
Radix Fici Simplicissimae is not toxic, and has the functions of strengthening spleen and moistening lung, improving the circulation of “qi” and eliminating internal “dampness”, and relaxing the muscles and joints, etc. It is a common ingredient used in making soup in Guangdong areas. Radix Fici Simplicissimae and Gelsemium elegans are easy to mix up as they resemble each other in their appearances.
Advice to the public:
1. Purchase food from reputable shops;
2. Do not consume unfamiliar food ingredients;
3. Do not pick wild plants for consumption;
4. In case of feeling unwell after consumption of the plants, seek medical advice immediately.
Advice to the trade:
1. Purchase food from reputable suppliers;
2. Retain relevant purchase records or invoices for source tracing by competent authorities when necessary;
3. Do not pick wild plants for sale as food ingredients.