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07/03/18: Vietnamese sandwich downs more than 300 in Bataan

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Photo of Banh Mi

More than 300 people were treated for suspected food poisoning after they ate Banh Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich sold in the Philippines.

Morong municipal health officer, Dr Emma Bugay, said Friday that 160 were admitted to the municipal health centre while 160 others were treated in dispensaries.

“They were vomiting and experiencing diarrhoea. All of them ate Banh Mi. Some victims who came from remote areas were feeling so weak,” the doctor said.

Banh Mi, Vietnamese for bread, consists of a baguette with tomato, cucumber, onion, homemade liver, pork and butter, among others. It is Vietnam’s most recognized food after “pho”.

Bugay said Morong is noted for the sandwich and not only visitors but even local folks patronize the stores selling it.

Morong Mayor Cynthia Estanislao ordered the closure of Banh-Mian ni Raven, a store near the municipal hall, where all the victims bought the sandwich from, while an investigation was ongoing.

An attempt by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) to contact the owners in their house in Morong failed.

Bugay, however, said that according to the store owner, the 300 sandwiches they prepared for the day were all sold out.

She said Banh Mi is big and is often shared by two persons so she estimated that not only 300 persons were affected.

“More than 300 persons are being treated and we are still awaiting less than 300 additional victims,” the doctor said.

She added that some visitors from Olongapo City, Manila, and Pampanga brought Banh Mi on the same day.

“There might be others who got hospitalized in the said areas,” she said., adding that a laboratory test of the patients’ stool showed the presence of bacteria.

“We are treating the bacteria which might last from two to three days,” Bugay said, adding that they have readied a specimen of Banh Mi that will be brought to Manila for laboratory examination.

Gabriel La Madrid, 50, said he bought Banh Mi for PHP50 and brought it to the factory where he was working.

“After eating, I got a headache and abdominal pain. Then I experienced diarrhoea. That is why I decided to come here to the health centre,” 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 de la Cruz bought Banh Mi and brought it home. She said her husband and seven-year-old son shared it and both of them later vomited.

The victims said they often eat Banh Mi but this was the first time they experienced food poisoning after consuming it.

Some eatery owners in the former Philippine Refugee Processing Center were taught by Vietnamese refugees how to prepare Banh Mi and continued to sell it after the refugees left in 1994.

The special kind sells for PHP50 each, and the ordinary for PHP25.

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