features - milk tea
Milk Tea Mishap In the Phillipines

features - milk tea

by Kaitleen Borromeo

The rise to fame of the popularly known “bubble tea” also known as “milk tea” has reached an ultimate high over the years. This Taiwanese tea-based milk drink has been introduced to many all over the U.S. and other countries. Franchising for this sweet treat has continued to spread, and it has everyone considering the drink a common delicacy.

No one has ever questioned what is actually in this interesting concoction. Of course, no one ever imagined that a harmless drink could cause danger… or food poisoning, to be exact. Yes, sometimes people need to treat themselves to something sweet, but for three individuals in the Philippines, the situation couldn’t have been any worse.

Over a week ago, two people have suffered fatal death not long after [sipping] on milk tea from the milk tea shop, and another individual, who was said to be in critical condition. The victims happened to be a couple  by the names of Suzaine Dagohoy, Arnold Aydalla and the shop owner William Abrigo. The couple went into a milk tea shop called ErgoCha located in Sampaloc, Manila. They both ordered the Hokkaido Milk Tea, which they returned shortly after being served. The two confronted the owner and questioned the taste of the drink, noting that it tasted [differently].

Abrigo reassured both of them that the drinks they serve are safe, and just to prove it, he decided to take a little sip himself. Just as the couple decided to leave the shop, Dagohoy dropped unconscious on the ground. Aydalla’s initial reaction was of course, to attend to his girlfriend, but unfortunately, he collapsed alongside her right after. And, just to continue the domino effect, Abrigo fell unconscious a few minutes after Aydalla.

All three were rushed to the nearest hospital. Both Dagohoy and Abrigo were declared dead a few hours upon arrival. Adyalla was confined in the hospital, but eventually became stable.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), they did not find any traces of poisonous substances in the milk tea sample they tested, which seems peculiar, considering all three victims suffered all at the same time, minutes after consuming the milk tea.

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had also attempted to determine if the drink contained toxic chemicals. There was indirect evidence given by tracing back to cases of deaths caused by contaminated milk tea in the Philippines in 2013. They found that those victims all consumed milk tea on September 24 and 25 from Dakasi Milk Tea House, and in mid May 2013, food starch, a key component in milk tea, was found to have been “tainted” with maleic acid.

This situation may not affect those in the U.S. specifically, but we should always be conscious of the fact that these things are possible, no matter where you are.