The Philippines Department of Health on Monday said it is checking durian candies that downed nearly 2,000 students for possible microbial contamination including possible presence of salmonella or E. coli.
An official of the Food and Drug Administration said the tests will determine if there is microbial contamination in the candies.
DOH spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy said almost 2,000 children fell ill last week after eating free candies distributed in different cities in the Caraga region.
A total of 1,925 cases of food poisoning have been reported in Caraga region as of 8:30 p.m. Sunday, July 12. At least 66 of the victims remain confined in various clinics and hospitals as of Sunday night, according to a DOH report.
Davao health officials have also found that the candies are not registered with the Food and Drug Administration.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto called Monday for the formation of a team of scientists and doctors which can be rapidly deployed to places hit by food poisoning.
“I think it is time to form quick reaction teams that can respond to food safety emergencies,” Recto said, noting that a creation of a team like Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) or Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) will investigate cases of mass food poisoning.
The senator stressed that the presence of the SOCO-like or CSI-like team would have a “calming effect” that prevents panic, which usually follow disasters with still unexplained causes.”