Food poisoning downs 169 in AteneoBy Karlos Manlupig
DAVAO CITY—At least 169 people, mostly students, landed in the hospital after eating chicken “adobo” at lunch during an assembly at Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) auditorium here on Sunday in what could be the first case of mass food poisoning in the school’s history.
Still confined as of 11 a.m. yesterday were the university president, Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, and over 50 students and staff members, according to administration officials.
“Most probably this was caused by bacteria on the food served,” said Maureen Villamor, president of the AdDU student council, who was among those hospitalized.
The caterer, MTC Rebosura, refused to be interviewed.
Dr. Edward Ladrido of the epidemiological unit of the city health office said food samples retrieved from the scene would be tested. It will take at least a week before the test results are released and the source of the poisoning is identified, he added.
Samples will also be sent to Manila to be tested by the Department of Health.
Dean Manuel Quibod of the College of Law said that the school had already suspended the services of the caterer pending completion of the investigation. MTC Rebosura has been providing food for those participating in university retreats and other activities for the past three years, he said.
Quibod said it was the first food-poisoning incident with the caterer and in the university’s history.
Students and staff members who attended the student leaders’ assembly were rushed to various hospitals after complaining of dizziness and vomiting several hours after eating packed meals.
Villamor said she and the other students noticed that the chicken “adobo” tasted spoiled.
Hospital doctors have already sent home 118 students, faculty and staff members after receiving treatment.
Jeremy Eliab, assistant university president, said the school administration was closely monitoring the victims and would shoulder all their hospital expenses. “They have unlimited financial assistance from the university,” he said.
“The faculty and staff of the university were also there to help in transferring the students from the emergency room to regular rooms,” Eliab said.
Quibod said MTC Rebosura has been very cooperative with investigators, even providing assistance to the hospitalization of the victims.
The caterer would be summoned to face the inquiry initiated by the school and the city health office.
The university president will decide on whether charges would be filed against the caterer after the investigation, Quibod said.