PASIG CITY, July 12, 2019 – Following reports of a suspected food poisoning incident involving at least 40 Junior High School students at the Imus Institute of Science and Technology–Dimasalang Campus, the Department of Education (DepEd) reiterates the strict enforcement of its policies and guidelines on healthy food and beverage choices in schools, learning centers, and DepEd offices.

An incident report from the Health Services Department of the private Cavite school states that around 23 students experienced abdominal pain and vomiting and were given first aid on July 10.

The following day, 39 students were examined in the emergency room of nearby hospitals. Ten were admitted at Our Lady of the Pillar Medical Center, three at the Medical Center Imus, and one at St. Dominic Medical Center, with the initial diagnosis of acute gastroenteritis. Two of them were already discharged as of July 12.

The same report signed by the school’s Vice President for Academic Affairs noted that they are still awaiting further medical reports from the said hospitals.

While its existing orders on the operation and management of school canteens, including DepEd Order No. 8. s. 2007, cover public elementary and secondary schools, DepEd enjoins all private schools to mandate the strict enforcement of food safety standards in their cafeterias including the implementation of hygienic practices on food preparation, cooking, display, serving, and storage. They shall also train all canteen personnel on proper and safe handling of food.

DepEd likewise reiterates the establishment of monitoring teams in the regional and division offices to ensure adherence to food safety standards and the guidelines on operations of school canteens, to avoid food poisoning and other similar incidents that pose health risks to learners.

Finally, the Department reminds all schools to make healthier food and beverage choices available to learners and personnel, as directed by DepEd Order No. 13, s. 2017 (Policy and Guidelines on Healthy Food and Beverage Choices in Schools and in DepEd Offices).