“The symptoms of food poisoning often don’t appear for days after the contaminated meal was eaten. As a result, most cases of food poisoning are never properly diagnosed.” Eric Schlosser
By Alex P. Vidal
The twin food-poisoning cases that rocked the metropolis these past two weeks, could damage Iloilo’s food tourism industry if health authorities failed to cushion the impact of the negative incidents.
Although the two incidents appeared to be isolated and did not occur in big festivals or in food gatherings sanctioned by hotel and restaurant organizations and the Department of Tourism (DOT), the impact of their publicity in mass media, especially in internet, could wreck havoc on the food and drink industry here. The way authorities handle the situation is crucial for Iloilo’s food tourism.
Those who heard and read the stories outside Iloilo don’t really care if the poisoning happened in a milk tea restaurant or in a hotel and victimized several Korean nationals. The fact that 58 people were hospitalized in the milk tea restaurant in Smallville and 11 Korean language students were downed in Castle Hotel on Bonifacio Drive, City Proper, the stories could scare and alarm those intending to visit Iloilo especially the food and drink concessionaires intending to expand their businesses here.
A milk tea restaurant investor friend who just arrived from China, for instance, informed us recently she would not push through anymore with her expansion plan in Iloilo after she heard that several customers of Dakasai Milk Tea in Smalleville in Mandurriao landed in the hospital.
She lamented that the Dakasai Milk Tea fiasco could affect future milk tea investors. “My investment could go down the drain,” she feared. The Manila-based investor also expressed apprehensions of possible sabotage by business rivals if the restaurant is doing good.
The Department of Health (DOH), which released partial results of laboratory tests in the Dakasai Milk Tea incident, said patients may have suffered from salmonella infection. In the case of those who drank milk tea, DOH said the salmonella bacteria likely contaminated the egg pudding, one of the add-on ingredients in the concoction.
Meanwhile, authorities have not yet established officially the cause of food-poisoning that rattled the entire Korean community as of press time. No one was reported dead. The 11 patients had been released from St. Paul Hospital early morning of Oct. 9 where they were rushed several hours after the incident. They reportedly ate friend chicken for dinner on Oct. 8.
Food poisoning is caused by ingesting food or drink that has been contaminated with either: chemicals such as insecticides or food toxins including fungi (poisonous mushrooms), or gastrointestinal infections of bacteria, viruses or parasites. Most people refer to food poisoning as covering any of those possible sources.
Health experts say the use of chemicals, fertilizers, manures etc. all have the potential to contaminate food as it is being grown. We have been warned not to expect that an item is washed before it leaves the farm.
Also, handling, storing and preparing foods are the most important areas to tackle in order to reduce the possibility of food contamination. If we eat out, health experts say, let’s be sure to pay attention to the conditions of food and food service hygiene.