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MANILA, Philippines –Using cheap and low-quality meat for spaghetti and fried chicken is the main source of food poisoning, a food expert from the University of the Philippines warned the public on Thursday.
Testifying at the Senate Committee on Trade and Industry public hearing on food safety and prices during calamities, Dr. Ma. Patricia Azanza said a study conducted by the Department of Food Science and Nutrition in 1995 showed that eating spaghetti and fried chicken prepared under questionable conditions is the number one source of food poisoning in the country.
“In the Philippines, the number one cause of food-borne diseases as of 1995 is spaghetti; and second, based on our records, I think, is fried chicken,” Azanza said.
Azanza said the common culprit in poisoning is the use of cheap ground pork or beef bought in market stalls or places with poor sanitation. Those meats are primary ingredients in the preparation of the sauce use in spaghetti. The poor quality is aggravated by improper storage and cooking.
“Our normal handling in the home and in the food service [is that] we use the cheapest type of meat, and then we stock it and hold on to it for long hours,” Azanza said.
Meanwhile, Josephine Gonzales, regulatory affairs manager of Nestle Philippines, confirmed that chicken meat is a prime source of food-borne diseases, when not prepared in a clean environment.
“Bacteria easily attaches to the fried chicken, especially if it is not prepared well,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said salmonella virus might be present right at the very source of the poultry – in the farm. While freezing may kill the bacteria, these could be regenerated when not cooked well.
“Most of the incidents of poisoning occur in big feasts. When the tainted food is ingested, diarrhea occurs,” said Gonzales.
Committee chairman Sen. Manuel Villar was alarmed by the revelation of the two experts. However, the experts assured the senator that most of the well-known food chains in the country follow strict standards in the storing and preparation of these food items.