THOMASIANS should make sure restaurants and other food establishments where they eat comply with sanitation standards, the UST Health Service said, a month after issuing a bulletin that harmful bacteria had been found in the water supply of V. Concepcion Street.

The August 1 advisory came after the Sanitary Inspector’s Office of the Manila City Hall informed UST “that the water supply of V. Concepcion Street near Dapitan tested positive for E. coli bacteria.”

E. coli can cause gastrointestinal illness manifested by abdominal cramps, watery to bloody diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, the advisory explained.

City Hall officials twice inspected one establishment in question, Flavorites Restaurant, after ten UST students who had eaten there complained to the Health Service of food poisoning.

Sanitary officer Felixandro Diaz led the first inspection and conducted a bacteriological water analysis, a method to test the presence of E. coli, last July 23. The analysis yielded a positive result.

In a report last July 24, Diaz and his team noted Flavorites’ deficiencies- it had an expired sanitary permit and six workers did not have health certificates. “Foul-smelling water” coming out of its faucets, the report said.

Sanitary officer Jeff Dexter Agustin conducted a follow-up inspection last Aug. 12 and found that six personnel in the establishment have secured health certificates, the foul smell in the water was gone, the walls and ceilings of the kitchen have been freshly painted, and garbage containers have been covered.

But the establishment still had a dirty comfort room after the second inspection.

Flavorites was given three days to comply.

Unlucky after all

In his report, Agustin also noted that the foul-smelling water was a result of diggings and pipeline repairs of Maynilad Water Services, Inc.

The owner of Flavorites said efforts have been made to improve sanitation.

“When the water started smelling foul, we decided to use purified water in preparing our food and even in dishwashing,” Flavorites’ store owner Jesse Ong told the Varsitarian.

But Ong clarified that only five, not ten students had complained of food poisoning.

Agustin’s group also tested the street’s water supply through a method called PHC media bottle rapid screening. Results were negative showed negative for other food establishments, namely: Sisig Express, Anong’s Grill, Thai Cuisine, 12 Square Food House, Merrie’s Canteen, Tagpuan Eatery, Motong Eatery, Lisa’s Canteen, and Cely’s Canteen.

But a month after the UST memo has issued and after inspections were done by City Hall, Olalia is still asking “Thomasians (to) be empowered on checking if the food they are taking is safe from contamination.”

Olalia said this was because the test on other restaurants using the PHC media bottle rapid screening method won’t detect E. coli, and what should have been done was another bacteriological water analysis like that on Flavorites.

However, PHC media bottle rapid screening method was not proper, because what the university was asking was for another test for E. coli to the water supply of all the food establishments in V. Concepcion.

“Our office received a copy of the test results with notes from Mr. Agustin. What Mr. Agustin submitted are results of the test using PHC media, a test that detects other (bacteria) such as Salmonella. What we are requesting is the test for E. coli, to be specific, the Bacteriological Water Analysis,” Olalia said.

Meralco lexicography

Olalia said only fast food chains Chowking and Wendy’s had their water tested for E. coli.

For now, only Wendy’s has submitted an E. coli test to UST, and the results from a private laboratory, Intertek, were negative.

“Since we need to be assured of a coliform-free water supply in the area, we requested City Health officer Dr. Lorraine Sanchez to conduct the needed test (on V. Concepcion Street),” Olalia said. “We will wait for the results.”

In choosing a clean and safe food establishment, a Thomasian must look for the basic requirements – updated sanitary permits of the establishment posted on the walls as well as health certificates of the employees, Olalia said. Food servers and helpers must, at all times, wear hair nets, aprons, shoes, and clean clothing, and their nails must be cut short.


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