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.

Maybe something is lost in translation: 4-year-old’s death a misadventure

Kids dying from foodborne illness hits me like a punch in the gut. After following illnesses and outbreaks for 15 years I still take pause to think about my kids when I see a tragic story involving children.

Outbreaks rarely end with the classic smoking gun resolution (a genetically matched strain in the food/environment and stool). Epidemiology, in the absence of pathogen matches, is king and uncertainty is reduced with reliable data and statistics. Once a possible food/site match is made, investigators go out to the field and check the food handling out.broken-telephone

A conscientious investigator can talk about possible risk factors in a report – but the subsequent reporting and broken telephone game of sharing the information can bleed potential factors into must-have-happened fact.

A few years ago an environmental health officer shared her concerns about how the story gets changed between the field and the report interpretation. She had investigated a outbreak blamed on poor handwashing shared with me that her notes showed no soap at the time she was in the kitchen a week after the illnesses were reported – that was translated into poor handwashing by the staff at the time of the outbreak.

She felt that was an extrapolation wrought with assumptions.

Folks who used the example didn’t care.

Getting the risk factor story right really matters.

According to the Straits Times a four-year-old boy in Singapore tragically died from salmonellosis and court proceedings point to food handling practices a shopping center food court stall. Based on the coverage, I’m not sure it’s that simple. And I wouldn’t call it a misadventure.

Shayne Sujith Balasubraamaniam, together with his mother and two-year-old sister, came down with food poisoning on Jan 19 this year, a day after his mother had bought food, including tahu goreng and curry chicken, from a nasi padang stall at Kopitiam food court at Northpoint Shopping Centre.

All three were taken brought to Bukit Batok Polyclinic the next day. Shayne was assessed to be severely dehydrated and was prescribed medication.

He showed apparent signs of recovery, but deteriorated on Jan 22 when his mother found him unconscious at home. He died in hospital about two hours later from salmonella septicaemia.

On Thursday, State Coroner Marvin Bay said in his findings that the boy’s death underscores that careless food handling and inattention to proper hygienic practices can result in catastrophic consequences on young and vulnerable persons. He found the boy’s death to be one of misadventure.

The most significant lapse, the inquiry heard, was the practice of partial cooking and refreezing of chicken parts. The kitchen would receive 80 parts of chicken as a batch. After washing the batch, 60 chicken parts were refrozen for use the next day. They would be stored with plastic bags with other raw food at the freezer, a practice which would encourage cross-infection between the raw and partially cooked food. Swabs from the tongs used to handle food, and the blender found a high concentration of bacteria that exceeded safety limits.

While the post-outbreak investigation demonstrates serious issues with food handling at the business, I’m not sure what was presented is enough to link the salmonellosis. If the stored chicken was partially cooked it implies that it would be further cooked – which if temperatures exceeded 165F would result in a 5-log reduction of Salmonella. Maybe cross contamination between raw and sorta raw chicken is really a factor – especially if there weren’t other illnesses. Or maybe the washing step spread pathogens around the kitchen.

400 sickened in 2012; Singapore hotel licensee fined $20,000

The licensee of a restaurant linked to five outbreaks of food poisoning was fined $20,000 for selling food that was unfit for consumption.

BCH Hotel Investment, the licensee of Man Fu Yuan Restaurant, pleaded guilty last week through its general manager to five charges of providing signature-stewed-lobsterfood at four wedding banquets and a dinner and dance event at Hotel InterContinental which resulted in more than 400 guests falling ill.

The offences occurred between Dec 26 and Dec 30, 2012.

Food poisoning incident at Singapore sports school

Over 100 students at Singapore Sports School were stricken with food poisoning from Nov. 1-3, 2010.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) are investigating into a food poisoning incident involving a licensed caterer, ISS Catering Services Pte Ltd.

As a precautionary measure, the canteen operator, ISS Catering Services Pte Ltd, was required to clean up the food preparation and refreshment areas of the canteen. MOH has advised the school to be alert to new cases and to ensure high standards of hygiene among students, staff and food handlers. NEA will continue to work with the school to monitor the hygiene situation at the canteen closely.

Rojak contaminated by raw seafood kills 2, sickens 150 in Singapore

The rojak served at Singapore’s Geylang Serai Temporary Market, which sickened more than 150 and killed two women, was cross-contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus from raw seafood, according to government investigators.

Rojak is a fruit and vegetable salad dish commonly found in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

In 1983, 34 people fell ill – also after eating at a Geylang Serai Indian-rojak stall, after drippings from raw cuttlefish fell into the rojak gravy, which was in uncovered containers on the lower shelves of a refrigerator.

Banana leaves left uncovered in the dirt outside Singapore restaurants

Bundles of banana leaves are often left on the pavement, exposed to the elements as well as to pests like rats, cockroaches and pigeons, before being used in Singapore restaurants.

The banana leaves are usually wiped with a damp cloth before being used to serve food on.

Student Nicholas Lee, 19, said he had assumed all restaurants have hygienic practices and would avoid restaurants which leave their banana leaves on the pavement.

A National Environment Agency spokesman said food shop operators must thoroughly wash the leaves before using them to serve food.