Four guests at a wedding lunch banquet on Sunday (2 December) at the Grand Ballroom of Mandarin Orchard Singapore were hospitalised, in another case of mass outbreak of gastroenteritis in Singapore.
The guests were among 42 who were reported to have developed symptoms of gastroenteritis – inflammation of the stomach and intestines which causes vomiting and diarrhoea – after consuming food during the banquet.
The Ministry of Health (MOH), National Environment Agency (NEA) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) are jointly investigating the outbreak.
They said in a media statement on Wednesday, “As of 9.30am, 5 December 2018, 42 cases were reported to have developed symptoms of gastroenteritis. Four of the cases were hospitalised.
“MOH, NEA and AVA have conducted a joint inspection of the caterer’s premises on 4 December 2018. As part of the investigations, food handlers were sent for stool screening, and food and environmental samples were taken for testing.”
Staff ‘temporarily relieved of duties’
A spokesman for Mandarin Orchard Singapore told The New Paper on Tuesday that it was looking into the matter and assisting the health authorities. She also said that the staff who handled food during the banquet events have been “temporarily relieved of duties” until they complete all necessary medical tests and are cleared by the relevant authorities.
The hotel will also cease serving raw food from its banquet kitchens during the investigation.
In November, 400 people had suffered gastroenteritis in three separate incidents that involved mass catering of food.
The first occurred on 6 November, when 81 people fell sick after eating food catered by Asian fusion restaurant Spize for a Deepavali celebration. A Sats officer, 38-year-old Fadli Salleh, died in hospital about a week later.
Then on 23 November, 190 people fell ill after eating food from TungLok Catering at a Singapore Civil Defence Force event at Max Atria@Singapore Expo. None of the 190 affected were hospitalised.
On 26 November, 131 kindergarten pupils and teachers fell ill after eating food from FoodTalks Caterer & Manufacturer during a learning camp.
Need to find cause of sudden spike
Dr Chia Shi-Lu, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, told The New Paper on Tuesday that the health authorities need to find out the cause of the sudden spike in such incidents.
“We really need to get to the bottom of this,” the Tanjong Pagar GRC MP said. “Food poisoning is relatively uncommon in Singapore, so it is worrying and also a bit surprising.”