School sends ‘sincere apologies and regret’ after feeding program leaves 111 hospitalized

Private school De La Salle Zobel (DLSZ) issued a public statement yesterday stating its “sincere apologies and regret” after 111 people in Sitio Makabuhay, Barangay (village) Poblacion, Muntinlupa City were hospitalized after they experienced symptoms of food poisoning. The residents participated in a feeding program that DLSZ conducted on Saturday.

Called Goodbye Gutom (hunger), the feeding program has been conducted by DLSZ in Sitio Makabuhay for the past four years without any issues. The program is temporarily suspended in light of the incident.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the residents had stomach pains, nausea, loose bowel movement, and were vomiting hours after the food was given.

According to DLSZ, the residents were served sautéd ground pork, rice, boiled eggs, bananas, and bottled water.

In a phone interview with Coconuts Manila, the head of the school’s Advancement and Communications Office Suzette Balgos said that they were informed that the residents were hospitalized at the Muntinlupa Hospital by barangay officials.

She said: “They said that the residents who were hospitalized at the Muntinlupa Hospital attended the feeding program. They were vomiting. We don’t know the cause of it yet because the hospital is still doing tests.”

Balgos said the food was served to about 200 – 300 people of different ages at around 8 – 8:30am for breakfast. Some of the residents brought the food home. She surmised that they probably ate it around lunchtime and that the food may have been spoiled at around that period.

She also said that DLSZ has shouldered the patients’ hospitalization fees.

The food was not prepared by a caterer but was cooked by DLSZ’s Grade 12 night school students in their home economics class. She said that sanitation procedures were in place when the food was prepared.

Balgos said: “The officers of the Sanitation Office [at Muntinlupa City Hall] will be coming here to check our labs. The project has been suspended [as investigation is on going] because we don’t want that to happen again.”

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