In a follow-up to a report last week of a large number of food poisoning cases linked to durian candy, Philippine health officials says 1,925 people were reported to be poisoned in Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, and Agusan del Sur on Friday, July 10, after they ate candies. Currently, 66 patients are still admitted in different hospitals for observation. This has prompted officials to stress the importance of food safety on acquiring and intake of unknown products.

Image/Philippines DOH
Image/Philippines DOH

“DOH is closely coordinating with the hospitals of CARAGA Region in monitoring the affected patients. Samples from the candies were taken to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for further analysis. All hospitals were alerted in CARAGA Region for possible admission of cases.” Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin said.

It was reported that the victims of the alleged food poisoning last July 10, 2015, in Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, and Agusan del Sur were rushed to the hospital after experiencing dizziness and vomiting. The patients either had bought or were given free candies from unknown vendors in different cities. The case was coordinated with Philippine National Police to trace the possible source of the said candies.

The Filipino news source, GMA news reports the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking into the possibility of microbial contamination (like E. coli or salmonella) in the cases linked to the durian and mangosteen candies.

The DOH reminded the public to take extra precaution in eating food especially from unknown sources. We must buy only from reputable sources. Consumers must also check the physical appearance/condition of the product. Avoid buying dented, bulging or deformed canned goods. It is important to check open date markings (expiry date/consume before date/ or best before date) for perishable products. Always double check holiday promo items (Buy 1 Take 1 or Freebies), which should still be of good quality and within safety guarantee period. Most importantly, avoid unlabelled repacked food products that are being sold, claiming that these are the same as or made by the manufacturers of known brands or products. Repacked food products must also bear proper label information and must be prepared in a hygienic facility and manner.

“We call on the public to be aware of the initial signs and symptoms of poisoning, such as vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, and impaired or loss of consciousness. Whether mild or severe, the patient should be immediately brought to the nearest hospital. Poisoning is deadly and immediate medical attention is warranted.” Garin concluded.