Surveys still suck: Restaurant inspection disclosure in Singapore

The aim of this study was to examine the consumer use of Singapore’s letter-based grading information disclosure system and its influence on dining establishment choice.

We used data from a national survey of 1533 households collected from 2012 to 2013 in Singapore to assess (i) the proportion of adults who refer to the letter grade before dining and (ii) the impact of the letter grade on their willingness to dine at an establishment. We used multivariable logistic regression to account for the independent effects of socio-demographic factors. The proportion of respondents who referred to a letter grade before dining was 64.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 62.1%, 66.9%). Propensity for referral differed by dining frequency, ethnicity and employment.

Fewer respondents were willing to dine at a ‘C’ (lower) graded establishment [10.3% (95% CI = 8.8%, 11.8%)] compared to a ‘B’ graded establishment [85.3% (95% CI = 83.5%, 87.0%)]. Willingness to dine at a ‘C’ graded establishment differed by dining frequency, housing type and citizenship. The letter-based grading information disclosure system in Singapore is commonly used among Singaporeans and influences establishment choice.

Our findings suggest that information disclosure systems can be an effective tool in influencing consumer establishment choice and may be useful to help improve food safety in retail food establishments. The implementation of such information disclosure systems should be considered in other countries where it has yet to be introduced and be periodically assessed for its effectiveness and to identify areas requiring improvements.

Use of the letter-based grading information disclosure system and its influence on dining establishment choice in Singapore: A cross-sectional study

Food Control, Volume 90, August 2018, Pages 105-112, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2018.02.038

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713518300847

 

Singapore: y’know, don’t hurl the contents of your stomach in public

Another serial vomiter story, this time from Coconuts Singapore, but with the risk communication tagline, “y’know, don’t hurl the contents of your stomach in public.”

The residents at Pinnacle@Duxton’s Block 1C have a whole ‘other level of revolting (and downright strange) situation to handle — piles of vomit at random places at the car park and the common area, as many as three to four times a week. The case of the serial vomiter at the Tanjong Pagar estate has gotten so bad that even the town council had to step in a few months ago with posters that say, y’know, don’t hurl the contents of your stomach in public.

According to Channel NewsAsia, the Tanjong Pagar town council received a complaint last year about the recurring problem of vomiting at the common area of that one particular block.

“Town Council put up the poster as an educational tool to deter this anti-social behavior as well as to seek residents’ assistance to contact the Town Council if they know who had committed this act,” said the town council’s vice-chairman in a typical politically correct tone to CNA.

Singapore rocked by 5 separate outbreaks at eateries

Clara Chong of The Straits Times writes that good food can be passed off as food worth eating – only if it is safe to consume.

TTdurianpuff-goodwoodThe current case involves Pow Sing restaurant, which, as of July 12, had 29 verified cases of gastroenteritis and investigations are currently ongoing.

This is just the latest case of a food establishment being suspended after outbreaks of food poisoning among its diners.

Here is a look at the five most recent cases.

  1. Pow Sing Restaurant

Pow Sing restaurant and its sister eatery Pow Sing Kitchen at Serangoon Gardens had their licences suspended indefinitely on July 13 after the authorities became aware of at least 29 cases of gastroenteritis, otherwise known as gastric flu, that were linked to the eatery.

An inspection on July 5 threw up several food lapses, such as the failure to maintain temperature records and allowing an unregistered food handler to prepare food.

Pow Sing, which sells zi char or cooked food in addition to chicken rice, has been told to dispose of all food and completely sanitise the kitchen.

  1. Pek Kio Food Centre

With more than 180 cases of gastroenteritis reported, Pek Kio Market and Food Centre in Owen Road area had to be closed on May 25 for a thorough cleaning and disinfection, including disinfection of dining tables, chairs, food preparation surfaces, walls and floors, for two days.

  1. Kuisine Catering

Poor hygiene standards at Kuisine Catering are a likely cause of a mass food-poisoning incident last February, resulting in 231 people falling ill, with five of those affected requiring in-patient medical treatment.

Investigations by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of Health and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority concluded that food poisoning was likely due to Salmonella enteritidis.

  1. Goodwood Durian Pastries

Goodwood Park Hotel’s food establishment licence was suspended on April 22 after 76 cases of food poisoning were linked to its durian pastries.

singapore-food2But on May 3, it was revealed that up 183 cases may be linked to the hotel’s hugely popular durian pastries.

Further investigations revealed that lapses in food handling in the durian pastry kitchen were to blame. All food handlers had to undergo medical screening and retraining on safe food handling practices

  1. GBS infection from raw fish dishes

In December 2015, stalls were no longer allowed to sell Chinese-style raw fish dishes such as raw fish porridge due to its link with an aggressive strain of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria.

The outbreak, caused by the Type III GBS ST283 strain, is the largest of its kind in the world, with about 360 cases of GBS infections since January 2015 and about 150 cases linked to the consumption of Chinese-style raw fish dishes that use freshwater fish.

This ban extended to hawker centres, coffee shops, canteens, food courts and caterers but left out restaurants, which generally observed hygiene standards.

The ban on using such freshwater fish remains in force until further notice.

At least 29 sick: Singapore restaurant suspended for links to outbreak

The Ministry of Health (MOH), National Environment Agency (NEA), and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) are investigating several cases Pow Sing Restaurantof gastroenteritis reported between 4 and 11 July 2016, traced to the consumption of food prepared at Pow Sing Restaurant, located at 63-65 Serangoon Garden Way. As of 12 July 2016, a total of 29 cases were verified to be affected, and further investigations are ongoing.

Laboratory tests are ongoing.

MOH has collected stool samples from the affected cases and the restaurant’s food handlers have been sent for stool screening. Only food handlers who are tested to be free of food poisoning pathogens, and have re-attended and passed the Basic Food Hygiene Course will be allowed to resume work. MOH and NEA will continue to monitor the situation.

Salmonella in Singapore

Lim Jia Qi of Channel News Asia reports that when Mdm Chia started having abdominal pain, she thought it was nothing serious. She took some painkillers, thinking that the pain would go away. But instead, she vomited twice and had diarrhea up to 10 times within a day.

vomit.toilet“I have no idea what I ate because Singapore is very clean and I just ate normal food like those at the food court and I didn’t go overseas at all,” said Mdm Chia.

Mdm Chia was admitted to hospital the next day and was diagnosed with salmonella gastroenteritis on May 8. The condition is caused by a food-borne pathogen that can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever.

Mdm Chia is one of the 1,042 people infected by salmonella so far this year. According to data published by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on its website, the number of people infected has increased over the years. Since 2012, the cases have risen by about 30 per cent to about 2,000 in 2015. The trend looks set to continue, with the number of cases so far in 2016 exceeding the 779 that were reported between January and Jun 20 last year.

In a statement to Channel NewsAsia, an MOH spokesperson said human salmonellosis is generally associated with the consumption of contaminated poultry, meat and eggs.

The spokesperson added that the ministry is working closely with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the National Environment Agency to monitor the situation and better understand the reasons behind the increase.

231 sickened with Salmonella in Singapore

Salmonella contamination has been determined as the cause of mass food poisoning among 231 people who ate food prepared by Kuisine Catering in February

raw.eggsInitial reports said that about 130 people were known to have become ill after consuming food from the caterer, but a total of 231 are now linked to the case.

The alarm was first sounded when 33 people fell ill after a birthday party in February. Later, more affected consumers said they experienced vomiting and had diarrhorea after consuming food prepared by the caterer from Feb 12 to 14.

In its latest report, Lianhe Wanbao reported that the company has since shut its business, and its signboard has been removed from the space it occupied in Jurong.

According to the Chinese daily, authorities found that the eggs used by the company were contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis, which can be caused by improper food handling.

A probe also found that there were expired food items in the kitchen, and that the company did not keep temperature records for its freezers and chillers.

183 now sick from fancy Durian pastries in Singapore

Another 100 cases of food poisoning have been linked to the consumption of durian pastries prepared at Goodwood Park Hotel.

TTdurianpuff-goodwoodAs of May 3, a total of 183 people have come down with food poisoning after eating the pastries, according to a joint statement issued on Thursday (May 5) by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.

This is an increase of 107 cases from the 76 previously reported.

The hotel’s bakery licence, which has been suspended since Apr 22, has not yet been restored. The suspension will continue to be in force until the lapses that might have contributed to the outbreak have been rectified, the Government agencies said.

Goodwood Park Hotel has previously said that it treats all matters related to food safety standards “very seriously”.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Durian pastries sicken 76 in Singapore

Goodwood Park Hotel’s bakery has had its food establishment licence suspended after 76 cases of food poisoning were linked to its popular durian pastries.

T&Tdurianpuff-goodwoodThe Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) investigated after the first incident was reported on March 15.

The ministry inspected the bakery after a second incident was reported on April 4. Joint investigations were conducted by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), MOH and NEA on April 13 after more incidents were reported.

Though lapses in food handling were discovered, there were no hygiene lapses or pests found. The AVA also did not find lapses in safety from food suppliers.

Stool samples from the affected parties as well as food handlers are currently being screened by MOH, and only handlers who have been certified medically fit will resume work after the bakery reopens.

All food handlers will also be required to retake and pass the Basic Food Hygiene course.

The hotel is required to clean and sanitise the bakery, including equipment, utensils, work surfaces and toilets, as well as rectify the identified food preparation lapses.

Goodwood Park Hotel has apologised to its guests and said it is cooperating with the agencies. “We would like to assure the public and all our guests that we treat all matters relating to food safety standards very seriously,” it said in a Facebook post, adding that it is sourcing alternatives to the affected desserts from “reputable establishments”.

“Goodwood Park’s durian pastries, especially the puffs, are dependably good and the hotel comes up with new offerings every year, so this comes as a real surprise,” said Ms Tan Hsueh Yun, food editor for The Straits Times Life section.

Stalls in Singapore told to stop selling Chinese-style raw-fish dishes

Food stalls have been ordered to stop selling Chinese-style raw-fish dishes until they can comply with stipulated guidelines, after investigations by the Ministry of Health (MOH) found a definite link between eating these dishes and Group B Streptococcus  (GBS) infection, which can potentially cause permanent disability and even death in severe cases.

strep.raw.fish.nov.15To date, two persons have died from GBS infections this year, said MOH today (Nov 27), without providing details. One of the cases was not linked to the ongoing outbreak, and the other is being investigated.

MOH said it has been notified of 355 cases of GBS infections so far. Of these, about 150 cases had the Sequence Type (ST) 283 strain which causes Type III GBS disease. In comparison, there were, on average, 150 cases of GBS infections per year from 2011 to last year.

The consumption of Chinese-style ready-to-eat raw-fish dishes was found to be associated with Type III GBS disease, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a joint media briefing yesterday with the MOH and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). MOH had said previously it has not found any links between the GBS infection and the consumption of Japanese raw meat or fish dish sashimi. Examples of popular Chinese-style raw-fish dishes are “yusheng”, which is usually eaten during Chinese New Year, and raw-fish porridge.

Over 70 stalls selling Chinese-style raw fish dishes have been identified by the authorities. NEA met with the owners of some of these stalls to brief them on its directive and guidelines, which include buying fish from suppliers which can provide certification on the health of the fish from authorities in the country of origin. Other measures include proper cold chain management, such as keeping fish for raw consumption chilled at the right temperature, and proper hygiene practices like using separate kitchen tools for preparing raw fish.

 

‘In my field, likely is not the same as layman term of likely’ Singapore court questions source of 4-year-old’s death from Salmonella

A boy of four who died after contracting Salmonella did not necessarily get it from a nasi padang stall where his mother bought food, a court heard.

nasi.padangAt a further inquest into the death of Shayne Sujith Balasubraamaniam on Jan 22 last year, State Coroner Marvin Bay found that it was only a “likelihood” that he contracted the infection from food consumed at the stall.

He, his mother and two- year-old sister suffered fever, diarrhoea and vomiting on Jan 19, a day after eating food bought from Kopitiam food court in Northpoint shopping centre.

His mother had bought home tahu goreng for him, and rice, chicken curry and bergedil (potato cutlets) for the three of them on Jan 18.

All three were taken to a polyclinic where Shayne was assessed to be severely dehydrated and prescribed medication.

He showed signs of recovery on Jan 21 but his condition worsened the next day. The cause of death was primarily consistent with salmonella septicaemia.

Two days later, the implicated food stall was inspected and found to have hygiene lapses.

The stallholder, Madam Siti Abibah Guno, was fined a total of $1,400 last month for failing to register a food handler, and protect food in a covered receptacle.

She has since cancelled her foodstall licence after Kopitiam terminated her tenancy agreement in November.

Recalled to the stand yesterday, Dr Hishamuddin Badaruddin, assistant director at the Health Ministry’s Communicable Diseases Division, could not conclude 100 per cent that the source of infection was the nasi padang stall.

The further hearing was held as the State wanted the court to clarify the coroner’s phrasing last October that it was “highly likely” the family had contracted the infection from the stall.

At the last hearing, Dr Hishamuddin had said lapses such as the way food was prepared could have contributed to bacterial growth, particularly the practice of partial cooking and refreezing of chicken parts.

He testified yesterday that the results of environmental swabs showed no salmonella in the stall nor in the food samples taken.

While there was salmonella bacteria found in the three family members, there was nothing else to link it to the stall.

He agreed with State Counsel Zhou Yihong, who assisted in the inquiry, that although he used the word “likely”, this likelihood of bacteria found in the cases was actually quite low.

“In my field, the word likely is not the same as the layman term of likely,” he said.