Food vendors urged to undergo training on proper handling

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 July) — Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will place all street vendors selling food to undergo training on proper food handling.

This developed after close to 2,000 victims — mostly children in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Agusan del Sur — were rushed to different hospitals on July 10 after eating durian candies that were produced by Wendy’s Delicious Durian based in this city.

In his Sunday television program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” aired over ABS-CBN, Duterte said he cannot stop vendors from peddling food because this is their livelihood.

“Ako silang tugutan tanan kay panginabuhi ni. Ang trabaho sa mayor dili tig-ipit og tao kung mahimo tabangan ug tudluan (I will allow all of them because this is their livelihood. The work of the mayor is not to make it difficult for people but to help them and teach them),” he said.

He said he cannot criminally charge anyone for the food poisoning, as there was no clear evidence that will pinpoint whose party is at fault.

“I canot charge anybody and I will not until such time that I can see a clear evidence,” he said.

“Even the police cannot identify who’s at fault or which part of the preparation did the contamination occur — from the time the durian was opened, until the meat was taken off its seed, and until there was a mixture,” he said in Cebuano.

He added that most of the small manufacturers buy the overripe durian fruits that are slightly cracked to make candies and pastries because they cannot be sold to local consumers.

He reminded candy factories to observe proper sanitation in the area where the foods are prepared.

“All workers in factories, you must wash your hands. The comfort room has so much bacteria, especially that everyone uses it. You are bringing the germs of the comfort room,” he added.

Personnel from City Health Office (CHO), Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) and Department of Trade and Industry will teach the vendors on the standards of hygiene and sanitation.

Duterte added that CHO team will then inspect the areas where they cook to determine if they are safe or not from food contamination.

After the seminar, trainees will get a certification from the City Government.

“You have to sacrifice a day for that, so that people will not be scared to buy and no one will be affected (from poisoning),” he said,

Last week, Jinolex A. Caingles, CHO senior inspector, said the city will hold proper food handling training on Tuesday.

FDA-Davao supervisor Deborah Legaspi confirmed Friday that food samples taken from the candies that poisoned the students in Caraga tested for staphylococcus aureus.

In 2012, a total of 180 students from Ateneo de Davao University (Addu) suffered from food poisoning after chicken adobo with boiled egg, bihon, fish fillet, and fruit salad for lunch. It was later found out in swab tests conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) that the food packs were contaminated with staphylococcus bacteria. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)