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CITY INSPECTION OF STALLS

Expired food, pastries sold in bus terminal

/ 12:25 AM July 16, 2015

KIDAPAWAN CITY—Food and pastries, including durian candies, were sold way, way beyond their expiry dates by many vendors at the city’s bus terminal, a city official said on Wednesday.

“How can these vendors sell food and pastry products that were already five years expired based on the labels?” said Psalmer Bernalte, chair of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

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Officials were horrified to find that many vendors were selling the food products with expiry dates about five years ago during an inspection of stalls and other food establishments at the terminal on Tuesday.

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Mayor Joseph Evangelista ordered vendors to pull out the expired items from their inventory, including products manufactured by Wendy’s Durian Candy, a Davao City-based outlet which was shuttered by authorities for operating without clearance from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

Durian candies made by Wendy’s and reportedly sold by members of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, a church founded and led by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, downed nearly 2,000 people, mostly children, in the provinces of Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur last week. The shop had earlier denied that it was the source of the candies.

Tampered expiry dates

Evangelista also ordered grocery stores to withdraw expired food items, those without expiry dates or those that bear tampered expiry dates from their shelves, Bernalte said.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza has directed police to pursue food peddlers to prevent a recurrence of the food poisoning that downed 40 pupils in Kidapawan last week.

Mendoza said she asked school officials to prevent the ambulant sellers from getting near their premises and to ensure that food being sold in their canteens come from trusted suppliers who have been cleared by health authorities.

In Davao City, Quiboloy has called for an internal investigation into the massive poisoning from candies that his followers had sold, his aide, lawyer Sweetheart Aldevera, said in a statement. As of Tuesday, some 100 victims remained in hospitals in Surigao del Sur, according to health officials there.

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Quiboloy is currently in the United States and was expected to issue a statement when he returns to the city. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is very open about his friendship with Quiboloy, said the pastor “can speak for himself when he comes back.”

Several persons were arrested in Tandag City and in Cagwait, Tago and Tagbina towns when authorities conducted pursuit operations against ambulant vendors said to be responsible for the proliferation of the candies, said Supt. Martin Gamba, spokesperson of the Caraga police.

A white Mitsubishi L-300 FB Deluxe van registered under Quiboloy’s name was also seized.

Aldevera confirmed that seven of the arrested vendors are members of the congregation.

“The Kingdom has been trying to get information from the ground the past few days, but what we had are raw reports,” Aldevera said. A team from the Kingdom of Jesus Christ has been sent to Surigao to verify the reports, she said.

“The team had been advised to coordinate and cooperate with the authorities in Surigao,” she added.

FDA permit

In Agusan del Sur, where dozens of children were brought to the hospital after eating durian and mangosteen candies, Vice Gov. Santiago Cane Jr. said the provincial board had approved a resolution urging health, police and trade officials to “advise store owners and food manufacturers to withdraw their processed food products without (FDA) permit from the market within the province effective immediately.” Edwin Fernandez and Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

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