Raw or Half Cooked

Cebu City - “SUTOKIL is a short term for “Sugba, Tula or Tuwa, and Kilaw”. This is a Filipino cuisine that is common to people of the Visayas and Mindanao. “Kinilaw” is part of Filipino culture which started from the Hispanic era and is commonly enjoyed by Filipinos.  “Kinilaw” is popular in carinderias and pungko2x but raw, fish-based dishes like sushi, sashimi are quite popular and gained prominence and now served in restaurants and fine dining gourmet as part of food/menu diversity.

The question is, is it safe? Ideally, NO! The Department of Health (DOH) warned that raw food, such as “kinilaw”, may cause death. The warning came after a study conducted by the DOH in collaboration with the University of the Philippine's College of Public Health (UP-CPH) found out that the cause of death of reported cases in Barangay Awao in Monkayo, Compostela Valley province in Mindanao was due to Capillariasis, an illness they got after consuming raw freshwater fish, or kinilaw style. 

The disease has recently been uncovered in Santiago, Agusan del Norte and Pinan, Zamboanga del Sur. These areas are additions in the already known endemic areas of Capillariasis in the provinces of Ilocos Sur, La Union, Zambales, Cagayan and Pangasinan in Northern Luzon and Leyte in the Visayas.Capillariasis is considered a food-borne disease acquired through ingestion of the infective larvae from small fresh or brackish (somewhat salty) water fish which acts as an intermediate host.

Raw meat on the other hand contains harmful bacteria including salmonella. Symptoms of salmonella infections include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps that will last up to 12 to 72 hours after infection. Affected patients may also experience chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that may lead to dehydration and can be life-threatening. Raw meats also contain listeria, campylobacter, and E. coli which can cause food poisoning, and gastroenteritis which can be lethal if not managed immediately and/or properly.

Based on the Department of Health (DOH) Region VII statistics in year 2017, gastroenteritis is tenth leading causes of mortality (death) among adults with 369 people affected at 4.8 prevalence rate. The disease was also the 5th leading cause of infant death in the region as recorded by DOH on the same year.

Since “Kilaw” is already part of our Filipino culture, we cannot totally exclude it from the menu. Health and nutrition experts recommend preparing raw seafood and meat carefully to make it safe for eating. Minimize eating raw or undercooked aquatic food products. Better to cook the food well to prevent food borne diseases. // NO I Armie D. Plando RN

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