DOH to probe food poisoning of Ateneo de Davao students
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Department of Health has asked the Ateneo de Davao university to send food samples from lunch packs that resulted in the food poisoning of 169 students on Sunday, July 29.
Jeremy S Eliab, Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) assistant to the president, said food samples taken from the lunch packs Sunday were obtained and frozen by Davao Doctor's Hospital and were turned over to the Department of Health.
"DOH Manila contacted us and we will send the samples to them," he said.
If laboratory tests prove the food they served was contaminated, Eliab said the caterer allegedly responsible for the poisoning of the ADDU students will be asked to shoulder the victims' medical expenses.
MTC Rebosura, the caterer who served lunch packs to some 334 students on Sunday, will be summoned by the school, Eliab told a press conference Monday morning.
50 students were confined in hospitals yesterday, said the school administrator, while the rest of the 169 are outpatients.
Eliab said the caterer had been the school's partner for 3 years and had regularly provided services at least once a week.
"They (MTC Rebosura) are our suki especially during college retreats, which is a regular activity," he added.
Hundreds of student leaders experienced symptoms of food poisoning on Sunday, July 29. They were vomiting and experienced stomach discomfort hours after they ate packed lunches served them.
The day-long event was disrupted by 2 pm when most of the participants went to restrooms, feeling dizzy and nauseous, said Luna Acosta, a Philosophy student and one of the facilitators of the event.
Reporters attempted but failed to get the side of the caterer. However, Eliab said "they helped bring students to the hospital."
"Some of their staff were victims themselves," he added.
Manuel P. Quibod, ADDU's College of Law dean, said the school has suspended the services of the caterer which had been commissioned for the university’s upcoming activities.
The caterer has been the school's food provider in major events, including the recent Stakeholders' Caucus on EO 79 on mining earlier this July, and the International Conference on Mining in Mindanao last January, said Quibod.
"We're gathering information, including food samples for the (school's) investigation committee.We will also go to the premises of the caterer, and student council leaders will be part of the investigation team," he said.
The school is currently asking several hospitals here to accommodate the students affected by the food poisoning incident and promised that it would reimburse their expenses once they will be discharged, said Rikki Enriquez, director of the Office of the Student Affairs.
Enriquez said the students are also covered by an insurance policy for which they pay P40 every semester.
Enriquez added they have no estimates yet as to how much the school will be spending for the students' medical expenses, but it said their insurance will cover all their bills.
Asked if the school will press charges against the caterer, Quibod said, "It's the office of the president who will decide."
Even the university president, Fr Joel Tabora SJ, was affected by food poisoning and was rushed to the hospital Sunday. Eliab said he will be released Monday. – Rappler.com