The Ministry of Health (MOH), National Environment Agency (NEA), and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) are investigating several cases of 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.
The Government agencies said that a total of 29 cases were verified to be affected, and that on notification of the cases on 4 Jul they immediately conducted joint inspections of the restaurant’s premises on 5 Jul.
Several hygiene lapses, including failure to maintain temperature records and allowing an unregistered food handler to prepare food, were observed said the agencies. They instructed the operator to rectify the shortfalls immediately.
The agencies however received further notification of another 4 affected persons on 11 July 2016, and said that there is reason to suspect that there might be a continuing source of infection in the premises.
NEA has with effect from 13 Jul suspended the licence of Pow Sing Restaurant to protect consumers from public health risks. It further instructed the restaurant it to dispose all ready-to-eat food, thawed food and perishable food items, conduct thorough cleaning and sanitising of its premises including equipment, utensils, work surfaces and toilets, and review and rectify the lapses in food preparation processes identified during the joint inspections.
AVA has collected food samples from Pow Sing Restaurant, as part of the investigation. Laboratory tests are ongoing. While MOH has collected stool samples from the affected cases and the restaurant’s food handlers have been sent for stool screening.
The agencies said that based on their joint investigation findings, NEA will take the necessary enforcement actions against the operator for the hygiene infringements found.
When the Channel NewsAsia interviewed the director of the restaurant, Mr Lee Chin Soo, he said that he didn’t know what caused the hygiene problem at the restaurant. He said that he too wanted to know where the problem is, that the Government agencies have not told him, and that he is waiting for the outcome of the investigations.
Mr Lee said that when he heard that the suspension was because a number of his customers had diarrhoea after eating at his restaurant, he ordered all his staff to eat chicken rice every day to find out where they had gone wrong. He claims that all his staff and him are fine even after eating the dish every day.
Meanwhile some customers have taken issue that Pow Sing Restaurant has put up notices outside its restaurant claiming that renovations to the premise is the reason for the closure.
The customers pointed out that the notice of renovation do not have an end date, and questioned the integrity of the restaurant for putting up such misleading notices.