Manila shuts 2 milk tea shops–but over permits, not poison
Two milk tea shops on Manila’s University Belt was ordered shut on Tuesday for operating without business and sanitation permits, as local government inspectors made the rounds following the death of two people who ingested an allegedly contaminated beverage at a Sampaloc shop last week.
Leading a surprise inspection, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno ordered the closure of I Love Milk Tea and Tea Gen shops, both located on P. Noval Street near the University of Santo Tomas.
Moreno and city health officials checked five milk tea stores near UST Tuesday morning as the apparent food poisoning incident in Sampaloc raised public concern over the safety of products sold at such shops.
The officials inspected the shops’ serving areas and kitchens, the equipment and ingredients used, their method of preparing drinks, as well as papers related to their business operations.
It was discovered that Tea Gen had no business permit and had been operating even though its application for a permit was still pending at City Hall.
Meanwhile, workers at I Love Milk Tea were found to have no health certifications from the Manila health department. The certification is required for businesses and their staff to ensure that people handling food or drinks were free of infectious diseases.
But Moreno explained that the shops will only be closed temporarily while their owners are securing permits.
“We closed these establishments because we found out they had no business and sanitation permits and their workers do not have a health certificate, but we at the City Hall will help them get all the necessary permits and certificates, so they can open as soon as possible,” he said.
Having tasted product samples during the inspection, Moreno said “the incident in Bustillos, Sampaloc, last week was an isolated case. We have many milk tea stores in Manila that serve delicious drinks and they are safe. We have to give this assurance to people because we have noticed that these shops have had very few customers (after the incident).”
Other tea shop owners in Manila admitted that sales had taken a slide. “There are classes in UST now and we normally have a steady flow of customers around this time (lunch), but since that incident happened, hardly anyone buys from us,” said a woman minding a shop on P. Noval.
Even establishments selling milkshakes and iced coffee seemed to have been affected.
“We really hope this issue blows over soon and the truth about (what happened in Sampaloc) is finally revealed,” said a worker at a store serving milkshakes near UST. “We know what happened was an isolated case, but we also don’t get that many customers nowadays. The investigation should produce results now and authorities should help us assure people that our products are safe.”
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