MORONG, Bataan: Nearly 200 people, including children, were treated for suspected food poisoning after eating BanhMi, a Vietnamese sandwich sold in an eatery near the municipal hall here.
Morong municipal health officer, Emma Bugay, said only 190 were affected, contrary to 300 that was earlier reported, since they were still collating other reports from other health facilities and those who preferred to stay at home.
Bugay said 130 were confined at the municipal health center while the rest were treated in different dispensaries after vomiting and complaining of head and stomach aches. As of Saturday, only 17 remained at town’s health facility.
Bugay said they are also monitoring if there would be cases in other areas after some visitors from Olongapo City, Manila and Pampanga brought BanhMi on the same day.
Health officials said laboratory tests on the patients’ stool showed the presence of bacteria and will take about two to three days to treat those afflicted.
A specimen from BanhMi will be brought to Manila for laboratory examination.
Mayor Cynthia Estanislao on Thursday ordered the closure of Banh-Mian ni Raven, an eatery near the municipal hall, where the victims bought the sandwich, while an investigation was ongoing.
Its owner, Virgilio Ramos, told The Manila Times that they were at a loss as to what happened since their preparation of BanhMi that day was no different from the other days. He said the bread, supplied by a local bakery, and the ingredients are fresh everyday. The sandwiches they prepared last Wednesday were all sold on the same day.
Ramos asked forgiveness from the victims, saying they are all victims to the “unfortunate incident.”
Gabriel La Madrid, 50, said he bought BanhMi for P50 on Tuesday afternoon and brought it to the factory where he was working. He ate the sandwich at about 7 p.m. and later felt his stomach aching and had loose bowel. He went to the see a doctor the next day.
Another victim, Jason Mendoza, 20, bought the sandwich at 3:30 p.m. and ate it in his work place. He experienced the same at night time.
Irene dela Cruz brought BanhMi home for her husband and seven-year old son who both vomited after a few hours.
The victims said they often ate BanhMi but this was the first time the alleged food poisoning happened.
Banh Mi, Vietnamese for bread, consists of a baguette with tomato, cucumber, onion, homemade liver pate, pork and butter, among others. It is Vietnam’s most recognized food after “pho”.
Bugay said Morong is noted for the sandwich that Vietnamese refugees introduced and has been widely patronized by locals and visitors.
Some eatery owners in the former Philippine Refugee Processing Center who were taught by refugees to prepare BanhMi continued to sell the sandwich after the refugees left in 1994.
The special BanhMi costs P50 while the ordinary is sold at P25.