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‘Poisonous’ durian candies test positive for staphylococcus bacteria


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday said the durian candies that downed nearly 2,000 people, including children, tested positive for the bacteria staphylococcus aureus. 
 
Maria Lourdes Santiago, acting deputy general director of the FDA, said the symptoms manifested by the patients confirm that the said bacteria was the cause of the poisoning outbreak in the Caraga Region. 
 
"We did look for mycotoxin pero negative," she said in a press conference.
 
Health Secretary Janette Garin said the bacteria is commonly found on the skin. 
 
"Sa staphylococcus, depende din sa balat ng tao, singit, o baka nagpunta sa banyo tapos na-contaminate. Bottom line, baka nakakalimutan ng tao pero if we are in food production, hygiene is very important dahil nakasalalay sayo ang nagco-consume ng produkto mo," she said. 

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, "staphylococcus can cause food poisoning when a food handler contaminates food and then the food is not properly refrigerated. Other sources of food contamination include the equipment and surfaces on which food is prepared." It said the bacteria is killed by cooking and by pasteurization.
 
Garin said the DOH is still conducting other tests, including the possible contamination from pesticides. 
 
"Ongoing lahat ng tests. 'Di lang siya nag-focus sa bacteria. Tiningnan na din ang contents," she added. 
 
Meanwhile, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning consumers against purchasing "Wendy's" brand durian candies, which allegedly caused the food poisoning outbreak in Caraga. 
 
Garin said that "these backyard industries are not regulated by the FDA." she said. "The bottom line is, hygiene is often overlooked."
 
"The public is also warned against unscrupulous selling and distribution of unregistered food items from unlicensed establishments. Consumers must always check products before purchasing that these should be safe, of good quality and within their shelf life," the FDA advisory said. 
 
The vendors who allegedly sold the tainted durian candies will be slapped with three charges of violation of the Food Safety Act, Consumer Act, and Physical Injuries in relation to the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act. — Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez with an Agence France-Presse report/JDS, GMA News