MORONG, Bataan — More than 300 people were treated for suspected food poisoning after they ate banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich that is popular fare at a store in Morong, Bataan.
Municipal health officer Dr. Emma Bugay said 160 persons were admitted to the municipal health center while 160 others were treated in dispensaries Friday.
“They were vomiting and experiencing diarrhea,” she said. “All of them ate banh mi. Some victims who came from remote areas were feeling so weak.”
Mayor Cynthia Estanislao ordered Banh-Mian ni Raven, a store near the municipal hall from which all the victims bought the sandwich, closed while the incident is being investigated.
Bugay quoted the store owner as saying the 300 sandwiches they prepared for the day were sold out.
She noted that more people could be effected because banh mi is typically shared because of its size.
“More than 300 persons are being treated and we are still awaiting less than 300 additional victims,” she said, adding that visitors from Olongapo, Manila, and Pampanga also bought banh mi the day of the outbreak.
“There might be others who got hospitalized in the said areas,” she said.
She said tests of the patients’ stool showed the presence of bacteria.
“We are treating the bacteria which might last from two to three days,” and are readying specimens of the sandwich to be taken to Manila for examination.
Gabriel La Madrid, 50, said he bought a sandwich and brought it to the factory where he works.
“After eating, I got a headache and abdominal pain. Then I experienced diarrhea. That is why I decided to come here to the health center,” he said.
Jason Mendoza, 20, bought the sandwich and ate it in his workplace too. “I got a fever and suffered abdominal pain with watery stool,” he said.
Irene dela Cruz said the banh mi she bought with was eaten by her husband and seven-year old, both of whom were stricken.
A number of eatery owners in the former Philippine Refugee Processing Center were taught how to make banh mi by Vietnamese refugees.