By Dyanarah Lavadia, Davao Today Intern
DAVAO CITY – No more durian candy pasalubongs (treats) for Mercy Regidor’s family in Manila.
Regidor, a resident of Panabo City, said that she will never send her children durian candy products because she is afraid that “they might be harmed.”
Consumers like Regidor were clearly affected with the news on the ‘poisonous durian candy’ which downed almost 2,000 residents in Caraga region.
“Nahadlok ko, bisag mag kaon-kaon diri sa bangketa, pati sa bakery mahadlok na ko (I’m scared, even from eating here in the street, or even in bakeries),” Regidor said.
She said instead of letting her grandchildren buy foods in school, she is now more careful and buys only biscuit for their baon.
With such reaction from their usual buyers, Bienvinida Ating, 65, a stall owner in Magsaysay Fruit Vendors Association said that food poisoning outbreak is threatening the livelihood of durian candy vendors in the city.
She said that selling durian products has become their source of living for more than eight years now.
“Ever since namaligya mi ug durian candies, wala man pud mi nadawat na complaint na nahilo sila or unsa (Ever since we started selling durian candies, we have not received any complaint like food poisoning),” she said.
Ating said it’s been a week since the food poisoning outbreak in Surigao was reported and since then, their income has depleted to 200-500 pesos from an average income of three thousand or 40 bags of durian candies per day.
A seller of fresh and processed durian products for more than 20 years, Jun Jun Laraga said that since the issue on food poisoning came out, the average bag of durian candies they sell per day downed to 10-20 bags from a minimum of 200 bags a day.
Food, necessities for everyday living, and even school fees of their children came from selling these products, Laraga said.
Laraga said they supply their durian candy products to supermarkets and malls here.
He said that they supply wholesalers from Bukidnon, Iligan City and even in Cagayan de Oro City.
Read related article: FDA orders candy maker to pull out products
She also said that they order and buy the products for selling only from known manufacturers and accredited by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
On the other hand, durian candy buyers even from outside Davao City said they will still patronize buying the products.
A police officer and resident of Tagum City, Isagani Espinosa said that as a buyer, the packaging should be considered first then one should check the label for the manufacturing date and expiry date to ensure that the product is still suitable for human consumption.
“Durian Candy is one of Davao’s best and people should not stop patronizing it,” said Espinosa.
“It may not be safe to eat durian candy products for now but I am looking forward for a positive development of the on-going investigation,” he added.
Edna Capablanca, 61 and a farmer living in Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) believes contamination, which resulted to food poisoning happened in Surigao, and not in Davao City.
“Ngano man diay, pasagdan ba diay na ang mga namaligya dira kung maka poison pa na siya. Katungod sa gobyerno na panalipdan ug proteksyonan nila ang katawhan (Do you think the sellers will go scot free if his products poison a consumer? It is the government’s role to protect the people),” she added.
However, vendors request the public not to doubt the candy products sold in the city for more than centuries now and spare them from the blame that caused by the complained candy manufacturers.
Read related article: City closes ‘poisonous’ durian candy factory
Laraga challenged the consumers to be cautious in the food that they buy, they should always check the packaging and read the label carefully if the product is of quality and brand that is trusted through years.
Laraga said, “Walay negosyante na dauton niya iyang negosyo (No businessman will want a bad name for his business).”
“Wala man pud mi angay na ikahadlok kay kining amo-a, tinarong man jud ni (There is no reason for us to fear because we are serious in our job),” he added.
Though small-scale and big-time candy vendors are greatly affected financially on the issue, they said that they will never be discouraged. For now, selling fresh durian fruits is giving them the hope that they can still survive this problem.(davaotoday.com)