A worker walks past plants covered with mud and ash after Taal volcano erupted, in Talisay town, Batangas province south of Manila on January 13, 2020.
AFP/Ted Aljibe
DOH: Ash-covered fruits, vegetables can be eaten as long as thoroughly washed
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - January 15, 2020 - 4:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — The public may eat fruits and vegetables covered in ash from the erupting Taal Volcano but they have to make sure that these products are washed properly, the Department of Health said.

In a press briefing Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said farm-produced crops cannot ingest toxins from the volcano’s ashfall unlike animals.

“‘Yung gulay at prutas na nalagyan ng abo, basta hugasan nang mahusay ‘yun at linisin, pwedeng kainin ‘yun,” Domingo said.

(Vegetables and fruits covered with ash can still be eaten as long as they are thoroughly washed.)

The massive volume of ash from the restive Taal has affected 2,772 hectares of agricultural land in CALABARZON, with the initial damage pegged at P577.39 million, figures from the Department of Agriculture showed.

The damaged commodities include vegetables, banana, coffee, corn, rice and cacao.

The eruption of Taal has also affected 1,967 animal heads.

‘Don’t eat fish from Taal Lake’

Domingo also reiterated DOH’s call to refrain from eating fish from the Taal Lake, which may have ingested toxic substances following the eruption of one of the country’s most active volcanoes.

“So we await the further tests of DA clearing na walang toxic level na nakakatakot doon sa tubig, 'wag po muna sana. Refrain muna tayo from taking itong mga isda,” Domingo said.

(So we await DA’s further tests clearing there is no high toxic level that pose danger in the water. Refrain from consuming fish.)

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Francia Laxamana earlier said the people who eat fish from Taal Lake could experience stomach ache, vomiting and diarrhea.

Taal Lake is home to tawilis (Sardinella tawilis)—the only freshwater sardine in the world. Tawilis, an endemic species, has been listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Tilapia is also caught in the lake. 

DA said an estimated production loss of 15,033 metric tons in the fisheries sector may reduce the supply of tilapia in Metro Manila.

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