http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-durian-candy-image22959060The illness outbreak connected to fruit candies that sickened nearly 2,000 people in the Philippines was likely caused by poor worker hygiene at the production facility, resulting in contamination by Staphylococcus aureus, according to newly released test results. After health authorities ran tests of samples of candy in search of foodborne bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, results turned up Staphylococcus, a common bacteria often found on human skin and associated with dirty hands and body sweat in food facility settings. Authorities are still testing for potential chemical contamination as well, but noted that they did not find other bacteria besides Staphylococcus. Symptoms of infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea, which were all reported among the 1,925 confirmed cases — most of them children. At least 66 patients were reportedly still hospitalized as of Tuesday. The candies were manufactured by Wendy’s Delicious Durian Candy and one other company whose name has not been disclosed. The local city government suspended the licenses of the two companies until they could be inspected by health authorities. Investigators are saying the contamination may have occurred during processing if contaminated workers dripped sweat onto the candies or mishandled them in some other way. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

  • haccpman

    Hmmm – This does not add up. Staph causes food poisoning due to the toxin it produces in mishandled foods, not due to the bacteria themselves. “Sweat” dripping on hard candies may contain Staph bacteria, but unless given a chance to grow there would be no toxin and no poisoning (though it is gross!). Hard candies do not have enough moisture to support growth. Now if an ingredient kettle or tank at factory was contaminated and allowed to sit for several hours, that might allow staph to grow and produce the stable toxin that causes poisoning. Salmonella is more commonly associated with low moisture foods, but they do not report finding it. They should keep testing.

    • Sharee

      The durian candy is not considered hard candy. It’s soft and chewy, much like the consistency of the inner part of Skittles. Some of them have dairy too.