An outbreak of food borne illness due to methomyl pesticide intoxication in Korea

J Korean Med Sci. 2013 Nov;28(11):1677-81. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2013.28.11.1677. Epub 2013 Oct 31.


On February 21, 2013, 6 elderly people collapsed abruptly after eating bean sprout bibimbab (boiled rice mixed with bean sprouts and seasoned with soybean sauce) at a countryside restaurant in the Chungbuk Province, Korea. Minutes after eating the meal, all of the patients lapsed into a state of stupor. Respiratory arrest developed in 2 patients; and one of two patients died of cardiac arrest. The autopsy identified methomyl and methanol in the deceased patient's gastric contents and in the remaining soybeanbean sauce seasoning. Five of the 6 patients ingested one spoonful of the soybeanbean sauce seasoning and survived, while one patient who died of cardiac arrest, ingested approximately two spoons. Symptoms of toxicity presented quickly in the subjects and progressed rapidly, including chest tightness, an unusual sensation in the pit of the stomach, dizziness, ataxia, and finally, collapse. Three patients who drank ethanol with the meal experienced only mild toxic symptoms. Our analysis of the clinical observations in these cases suggests that ingestion of methomyl pesticide and the additive toxicity of methanol may have been responsible for the intoxication.

Keywords: Methanol; Methomyl; Mixture Toxicity; Poisoning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / poisoning
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Ethanol
  • Female
  • Foodborne Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / poisoning*
  • Male
  • Methanol / poisoning*
  • Methomyl / poisoning*
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Insecticides
  • Methomyl
  • Ethanol
  • Methanol