A mysterious health crisis has impacted nearly 2,000 people in the Philippines: After eating contaminated fruit-flavored candy, 1,925 people — mostly schoolchildren — fell seriously ill. Health department officials have been investigating the actual cause of what news outlets are calling a large batch of “poisoned” candy, but it’s unclear whether or not the contamination was intentional, according to The Telegraph.
Hospitals began treating patients on Friday, and as of Monday the number of ill people had risen from 600 to nearly 2,000. As of this week, 66 people were still hospitalized. Victims complained of intense headaches, stomachaches, cramps, and nausea brought on by eating the candy, which is typically sold by vendors outside of schools.
Possible causes of the contamination include staphylococcus, salmonella, or E. coli. Thus far, police have arrested nine street vendors, all of whom obtained the sweets from Wendy's Delicious Durian Candy and sold them from their carts. Vendors will likely be charged for not adhering to proper food safety regulations.
“The department’s experts are trying to investigate and consider all possible causes,” health department spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy told the AFP News Agency. “It could be intentional, it could be mishandling. The owner is not yet off the hook because many violations have been spotted like (the lack of) expiration dates on the products and proper labelling.”