Methaemoglobinaemia associated with the atypical use of sodium nitrite as a food additive

Caitlin O’Neill, Zeina Najjar, Andrew Ingleton, Alan Edwards, Andrew Dawson and Leena Gupta
Med J Aust 2021; 215 (6): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51233
Published online: 20 September 2021

On 13 November 2019, a public health unit in Sydney, Australia was notified of two unrelated patients who presented on the previous day to different emergency departments (EDs) with methaemoglobinaemia.1 Both had sudden symptom onset after dining at the same restaurant, raising suspicion that these presentations were linked to contaminated food, and prompting investigation. Foodborne illness in two or more related cases is notifiable under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW).2

  • 1 Public Health Unit, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 Biosecurity and Food Safety, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Sydney, NSW
  • 3 NSW Poisons Information Centre, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW
  • 4 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW


We thank Keira Glasgow, Manager of Enteric and Zoonotic Diseases with the Enterics, Zoonoses and Multi‐Resistant Organisms Branch at NSW Health, for her input during the investigation.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.