Singaporean agencies probe illnesses; help form food safety hub
Authorities in Singapore have launched an investigation after 15 people fell sick beginning in late March.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) and Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said one person was hospitalized but has since been discharged.
Gastroenteritis symptoms started after consuming food prepared by Meetup @ 352 (Kin Hoi) between March 28 and April 15. SFA has suspended operations at the business until further notice.
The agency has also prohibited Kemono Pte from preparing and serving all menu items, including online orders, to Kin Hoi. The former is a business partner of Kin Hoi and provides food preparation and cooking services for Kin Hoi’s online delivery orders in a separate facility from their own business.
All food handlers working at Kin Hoi must re-attend and pass a food safety course before they can resume this work. Meetup @ 352 is also required to clean and sanitize the premises, including equipment and utensils.
Kemono Pte has been told to disinfect food preparation surfaces and floors, and ensure good hygiene maintenance of wash basins.
Other recent incidents reported by local media include 151 students and staff from the International French School in Ang Mo Kio getting food poisoning and more than 100 children sick at Superland Pre-school at SingPost Center.
Officials have also lifted the suspension of Chilli Api Catering Pte that was put in place in mid-March but are still investigating the cause of related illnesses.
The MOH and SFA received reports of gastroenteritis involving 129 people who ate food prepared by the firm between March 10 and 13. In total, 23 people were hospitalized but they have since been discharged.
Chilli Api Catering Pte disposed of all ready-to-eat, thawed and perishable food items, and cleaned and sanitized their premises, including equipment and utensils. SFA said it would keep the caterer under close surveillance to ensure it adheres to food safety requirements.
Food safety hub launched
Meanwhile, a center has been created to help close the current gap in scientific capabilities for food safety risk assessment and validation in the country.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), the Singapore Food Agency and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), launched the Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH) at the Food Science and Technology Global 2021 conference.
Professor Lam Khin Yong, from NTU, said the university has strong engagement with the food industry which has led to a number of consumer products developed from its food tech innovations.
“Our researchers are increasingly engaged in broader national effort in food security. In addition, our dynamic education and research in food science and technology and expertise from various schools and colleges would also be of value for inter-agency collaborations.”
FRESH, hosted at NTU, was set up to drive food safety research and help build local science capabilities. It will enable regulatory responsiveness through early exposure of scientists to novel methods developed by industry, address emerging food safety issues early, and accelerate product time-to-market.
Joanne Chan, director of the National Centre for Food Science at SFA, said: “SFA will continue to work closely with the food industry on new food developments, as well as facilitate the exchange of food safety knowledge, experience and expertise, to support our 30 by 30 goal, which is to produce 30 percent of Singapore’s nutritional needs locally by 2030.”
Disciplines include food science, microbiology, chemistry, toxicology, engineering, and communication and will include government, academic and industry stakeholders.
Ralph Graichen, chair of the FRESH advisory committee, said: “By tapping on R and D to improve food safety and facilitate the introduction of novel foods to the market, Singapore is well on its way to becoming a leading agri-food and nutrition hub.”
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