More inspections

DOH-XI clears 13 establishments after milk tea scare
THE REGIONAL Department of Health cleared 13 beverage establishments in the wake of the City Health Office’s seizure of expired ingredients from two local milk tea shops.

The City Legal Office is still studying whether to recommend the filing of charges against the two owners, who have not been named pending the results of the investigation.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Club 888 media forum, DOH-XI regional director Abdullah Dumama said they did not focus on milk tea shops alone, but also restaurants offering tea products. They started the sweeping the establishments in the second week of April.

According to Dumama, their inspections went beyond the stock rooms and involved the examination of all aspects of the supply chain, including the source of the ingredients.

The regional director added he was in favor of publicly naming the erring milk tea shops in favor of the other shops who are compliant with health regulations.

“Personally, I think we should name them,” Dumama said.

The CHO, as of Tuesday, has already spoken with representatives from the Food and Drug Administration regarding the next steps to take regarding the two milk tea shops.

The inspections were ordered days after reports of two milk-tea related deaths in Sampaloc, Manila.

In an earlier interview, CHO sanitation chief Robert Oconer said one of the milk tea shops found to have violated sanitation regulations was from a popular, national franchise.

Oconer clarified that the shops did not sell products with expired ingredients, “but the mere act of storing expired ingredients is already a violation.”

DOH undersecretary Vicente Belizario Jr., who was also a guest at Wednesday’s forum, said the incident caused a milk tea scare in Metro Manila.

In a statement last week, one of the owners of a milk tea shop here asked the city government to name the erring shops because news of the Manila incident has reportedly affected sales.

Cathy Binag, owner of Madhatter, called the CHO’s withholding of the names unfair for those who comply with food handling regulations.

Last Sunday, Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte said the city could be compelled to name the erring shops to be fair with others who were complying with the regulation.

Belizario, meanwhile, clarified that the Sampaloc, Manila incident was isolated and lauded the city government for being “on top of the situation.”