SINGAPORE – In a period of less than three weeks, Singapore was hit by poisoning massive food poisoning, affecting more than 400 people.
While food hygiene has ceased to be one of the reasons, Dr Chia Shi-Lu, chairman of the government's parliamentary health committee, said The New Paper on Wednesday (November 28th) that the scale and proximity (in terms of time) of the incidents could have been very good show something like a bug or a contaminated source.
He added that although investigations were still ongoing and could not be sure what the cause might have been, the fact that there were multiple incidents in spite of stringent food hygiene standards could indicate that this could be more troubling than just hygiene.
Caterers would also step up precautions after each case.
Therefore, careful investigations are being carried out to determine the cause for it to be able to be adequately addressed, he added.
The latest incident took place on Monday in a training camp organized by Busy Bees Asia.
The school was attended by a kindergarten of 2 children and teachers. The next day, 131 fell ill. No victim was hospitalized.
After the incident, the National Environmental Agency (NEA), the Ministry of Health and the Agro-Food and Veterinary Administration announced in a joint statement to investigate the outbreak of gastroenteritis.
The incident followed the consumption of food prepared by FoodTalks Caterer and Manufacturer, which is located in the eastern Shimei Kitchen in Bedok on Monday.
On Tuesday, authorities conducted a joint inspection of the premises of the hospitality facility. As part of the investigation, food managers were sent to screen the chairs, and samples of food and environmental testing were taken, agencies said.
The TNP understands that the camp was supposed to last two to three days, but was canceled the first day due to the incident.
In response to questions from the TNP, Mr. Ronald Kwong, director of operations and curriculum in Busy Bees Asia, said the food was prepared by an external caterer.
Busy Bees Asia has suspended the camp and reported an incident to authorities and will continue to cooperate with agencies to determine the cause of the incident, he added.
TNP realizes that this was not the first time that the organization has served food from the FoodTalk.
Mr. G. Seetoh, a local food expert, told TNP that food poisoning occurs even in the world's best restaurants, but with the care and respect of the kitchen, caterers can avoid such cases.
He said: "It's just tempting and easy (for kitchen staff) not to wash your hands or kneel in the cooking area in the kitchen. It only takes stricter controls and rules with serious penalties for violations."
He said that such incidents are serious and that they can bring the brand, and personal hygiene must be in progress.
Guidelines and information on food hygiene and safety for consumers can be found on the NEA's website, including information on the safe consumption of catering food.