Makati stops operation of school canteen in food poisoning incident
Mike Frialde ( - January 15, 2016 - 2:12am

MANILA, Philippines - The Makati City Health Department (MHD) on Friday shutdown the operations of the canteen of the Pio del Pilar Elementary School-Main where 123 students were hit by suspected food poisoning on Thursday morning.

In issuing the cease and desist order on the canteen, Makati Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña also assured parents of the affected pupils that an investigation of the incident is now ongoing in order to prevent any recurrence in the future.

“We are committed to protecting the safety and well-being of our constituents, especially the children,” Peña said.

Peña added that the Makati City government in collaboration with the Department of Education-Makati will also start an intensified drive to raise awareness on food safety among schoolchildren in the city’s public schools, as well as teachers and canteen operators.

Earlier Friday, a team of MHD doctors accompanied representatives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in an inspection of the school canteen and its premises. The Makati police on Thursday cordoned off the area to make way for the investigation.

MHD officer-in-charge Dr. Bernard Sese said samples of food and drinks obtained by MHD sanitary inspectors from the canteen have been turned over to the FDA and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for testing and analysis.

Vomit specimens from the victims were also taken and were sent to the RITM for analysis. The results are expected to be available after at least one week.

Sese said the food samples taken from the canteen included different kinds of biscuits, flavored drinks, tikoy (rice cake), pianono bread, polvoron and brownies. The food items were sold to the students during recess time last Thursday, Sese said.

Meanwhile, the FDA will handle coordination with the local health agencies of Manila and Pasay, where the suppliers of the food and drink products found in the school canteen are located. They will also be subjected to inspection as part of the ongoing investigation.

According to reports reaching the Makati City government, the victims, consisting of 122 students and a female teacher, fell ill immediately after taking snack foods from the canteen during their mid-morning recess time around 9:30 a.m.

After showing signs of food poisoning, such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, headache and cold sweat, the victims were rushed to the Palanan Health Center and Ospital ng Makati (Osmak).

According to Sese, the inspection team found the permits and other regulatory requirements for the operation of the school canteen to be valid as the renewal process is still ongoing. Its latest water safety inspection certificate was issued last December. 

The Makati City government reported that as of Friday afternoon, all victims had been sent home, except for one student at the Osmak and another at a private hospital who are being treated for mild dehydration. 

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