Philippines: Food poisoning downs 23 persons in Argao

By Jhunnex Napallacan
Cebu Daily News
First Posted 12:43:00 07/30/2008


Source of Article:


CEBU CITY, Philippines - Food poisoning blamed on lechon (roasted pig) that was allegedly bad downed at least 23 persons in Barangay (village) Balisong, Argao town, around 66.9 kilometers south of Cebu City.

Fifteen of the victims were brought to the Isidro C. Kintanar Memorial Hospital in Argao, while eight others opted to stay home, town's sanitary inspector Apolinario Filomeno said Tuesday.

The victims reportedly ate the lechon on Sunday evening.

Dr. Domingo Efren of the Isidro C. Kintanar Memorial Hospital in Argao said the patients started to arrive in the hospital on Monday afternoon.

Efren said the patients complained of stomachache, dizziness, vomiting and loose bowel movement (LBM).

Efren said the common food eaten by the patients was pork lechon bought from Danny's and Virgie's Lechon House.

Dr. Rino Rhine Mamac, Argao Municipal health officer, ordered a temporary closure of the lechon outlet pending the investigation on Tuesday morning.

Danny Engbino, the owner of the lechon outlet, resented the allegations that his lechon caused the food poisoning.

He said it could be a handiwork of a "guy who is jealous" of his business.

This was the second incident of food poisoning involving the same lechon house.

A few months ago, some customers were also hospitalized when they fell ill after eating the lechon. The lechon house was also ordered closed temporarily but was allowed to operate again.

Tuesday’s closure order, which was noted by Argao Mayor Edcel Galeos and the municipal administrator, said the closure of the lechon house would depend on the result of the epidemiologic investigation.

“In view of the above, the undersigned recommends temporarily closure of your establishment pending on the completion on the epidemiologic investigation and until further notice,” the order said.

The Provincial Health Office sent a medical team on Tuesday to investigate the incident.

“A team was sent there this morning (yesterday) to conduct a routine epidemiological investigation,” Dr. Cristina Giango, Cebu Provincial Health Office (PHO) director told Cebu Daily News.

She said that the patients would be interviewed and undergo laboratory tests.

Giango added that the probe is part of the PHO's routine probe whenever there are unusual cases reported to the office, a rise in dengue or diarrhea cases from towns and municipalities in Cebu province.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Giango said the PHO has no plan of action yet because the result of the team's investigation is not yet available.

Sanitary inspector Felomino said the samples of lechon and stool from the patients were brought by the health personnel to Cebu City for laboratory examination.

But Felomino clarified that the lechon was the common food taken by the patients.

They had no evidence yet to show that it was the cause of the incident, he added.

During the inspection of the PHO team, Felomino said they found out that the lechon house was clean and had observed the standards in the sanitary code.

It also had proper documents to operate.

Felomino said that if indeed the lechon caused the food poisoning then it could be that the lechon sold was spoiled food.

Based on sanitary standard, he said lechon must be disposed four to five hours after it is displayed.

He said the health inspection team established that the whole lechon blamed for the food poisoning incident was displayed about 3 p.m. on Sunday.

He said the patients bought the lechon between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., which was still okay based on the standard for disposing the lechon.

Lechon house owner Engbino said a “jealous person” could have made the allegations.

He said this person bought one and a half kilo of lechon on Sunday evening, and gave these to the people, who were hospitalized.

He said that if his lechon was not good for human consumption, it was impossible because the other customers would have fallen ill, too. /With a report from Editorial Assistant Bernadette A. Parco

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