Manila: Two people died while a third was admitted to hospital on Friday after drinking contaminated chilled milk tea.
Suzanne Dagohoy, 28, collapsed after drinking chilled Hokaidou milk tea at the Ergo Cha stall located on Bustillos Street in Manila’s Sampaloc around 10am on Thursday. Her boyfriend, Arnold Aydalla, 34, was left feeling dizzy and unable to stand after taking a sip.
The owner of the stall owner, 57-year-old William Abrigo, also collapsed after drinking the tea, Aydalla said from the Sampaloc Community Hospital where he is recovering.
Aydalla’s statement was supported by a security footage taken from a shop in front of the stall.
The three were rushed to hospital but Dagohoy and Abrigo were declared dead on arrival.
The footage shows Aydalla ordering two cups of milk tea moments before the tragedy. Sampaloc police took samples of the milk tea to the Food and Drug Administration agency (FDA) for testing.
Mavic Pinion, director of the FDA’s Centre for Food and Research, said that the agency would first try to determine if there were traces of poisonous substances that could point to the presence of heavy metals such as lead or mercury.
Afterwards, the same specimen will be tested for the presence of other poisonous chemicals like arsenic.
Dr Benjamin Yson, head of the City Health Department of Manila, said the chemical that had caused the poisoning was quick acting and so lethal that even a small amount taken in from a few sips, would lead to death in a few minutes.
“This is not a simple case of food poisoning from expired or spoiled food or drink,” he said.
Earlier, reports point to possible contamination of the container used in mixing the beverage but officials refused to comment and instead are awaiting the final findings of the FDA.
Tragedies involving food contamination are not new to the Philippines.
In 2005, 30 schoolchildren in Mabini town in the Central Philippines province of Bohol died after eating cassava fritters contaminated by pesticide.