Jamaica Warns About an Increases in Ackee Poisoning

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- Jamaica's health minister is warning
the public to take care when they prepare the popular but potentially deadly ackee fruit following an increase in poisoning cases.

Minister Rudyard Spencer says 35 people have fallen ill since last month after eating unripened ackees, the country's national fruit.

The red-skinned fruit with golden flesh produces a compound known as hypoglycin that can reach dangerous levels when it is picked too early and is not ripe. The toxin can cause a drop in blood sugar and vomiting, and, in rare cases, convulsions, coma and death.

Spencer said in a statement Friday that all of the poisoning cases involved ackees cooked at home. He said that the ministry will bolster a public-education campaign on ackee poisoning.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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