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FDA runs more tests on milk tea samples

A PALACE official reported on Sunday that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) had already come up with “initial findings” on the milk tea samples which left two people dead in Manila.

The FDA, however, needed to run more tests to verify its findings “to make them more definitive,” according to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma during a weekly public affairs program aired on a government-run radio station.

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Coloma said the information was relayed to him by Health Secretary Janette Garin. The FDA is an agency attached to the Department of Health (DOH).

Coloma, the head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) also reported that “the DOH [was] coordinating with the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the National Bureau of Investigation regarding the criminal investigation aspect of the case.”

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He added that Manila City health authorities were “exercising increased vigilance over business establishments (serving milk tea and related drinks) and strictly implementing health and sanitation regulations.”

On Thursday, within three minutes of consuming the Hokkaido-flavored milk tea that he himself prepared, William Abrigo—owner of ErgoCha Milk Tea House on Bustillos Street in Sampaloc, Manila—collapsed on the floor of the eatery. He later died at the nearby Ospital ng Sampaloc.

Earlier, customer Suzaine Dagohoy and her boyfriend, Arnold Aydalla, were brought to the hospital after they ordered milk tea from Abrigo. When they sipped the drink, they complained about its taste, prompting the store owner to sample it.

Dagohoy also died while Aydalla was later described to be in stable condition.

The FDA had said it was focused on determining whether the milk tea contained cyanide.

The Manila Police District submitted the milk tea speci men to the FDA last Friday.

FDA officer-in-charge Nick Lutero said that “when the specimen was brought to us, there was no medical abstract, no narrative of what happened, no information regarding the symptoms experienced by the victims.”

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“Those requirements would have made the analysis of the specimen easier. Without those information, we’re compelled to test the specimen for all substances,” he added.

Nevertheless, the FDA decided to conduct the tests, focusing on cyanide tests first.

Meanwhile, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III urged local officials to make a widespread sanitary inspection of food establishments in Manila to prevent a similar occurrence.

He also asked the FDA to immediately come out with its findings “to relieve” people’s apprehensions about the incident. With Christine O. Avendaño

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TAGS: Food and Drugs Administration, Metro, Milk Tea, News, poisoning
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