‘Gram-negative’ bacteria found in food samples

KIDAPAWAN CITY  (MindaNews/ 12 October)– The samples of the food served to participants of a Fun Run activity in nearby Makilala town have tested positive for gram-negative bacteria, a health expert said.

At least 100 of the 4,000 participants in the Fun Run last Tuesday, which was part of Makilala’s 58th year foundation celebrations, have been hospitalized after they complained of loose bowel movements, severe headaches, and nausea, which are indications of food poisoning.

Dr. Edwin Mudanza, medical director of the Kidapawan Medical Specialist Center, Inc., said the bacteria are considered “common organisms” found in spoiled foods.

Mudanza, whose expertise was tapped by the Makilala municipal government to investigate the incident, said the pastel (also known in the locality as patel) contained boiled eggs, which could have caused the spoilage.

Pastel is rice toppings with boiled eggs and shredded chicken adobo and wrapped in banana leaves.

“We cultured the organism that we’ve taken from the boiled eggs and we found [gram-]negative bacilli, which are common in spoiled foods,” Mudanza said.

These bacteria, he explained, develop easily.

“It would be very easy for the bacteria to multiply fast if there are opportunities, like spoiled foods and [a dirty] environment,” he said.

The bacteria, however, are “not deadly,’ he stressed, dispelling reports that there were patients brought to hospitals in Kidapawan City and Makilala that died due to the food poisoning incident.

Mudanza said half of the 91 patients brought to the different hospitals were able to return home last Thursday and that “the other half would be going home either on Friday or on Saturday.”

Mudanza’s report also confirmed initial investigations that the food poisoning was “not intentional.”

Four food caterers were contracted by the Makilala government to prepare at least 5,000 pastels for the Fun Run activity on Tuesday.

The pastels were distributed at around 11 a.m. that day, and an hour later, many complained of severe abdominal pains and diarrhea.  (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)