What do you think about Mandarin Orchard food poisoning: Banquet kitchen suspended, ballroom closed after 175 people affected?

The authorities have suspended the banquet kitchen serving the Grand Ballroom — the largest of four wedding halls in the Mandarin Orchard Singapore hotel — and closed the ballroom for disinfection.

In the latest food poisoning episode in recent weeks, high-end hotel Mandarin Orchard Singapore suspended operations at its Grand Ballroom on Wednesday (Dec 5) after 175 people developed symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting and nine were hospitalised.

Earlier in the day, the authorities said that 42 guests took ill and four were hospitalised after attending a wedding banquet at the hotel on Sunday.

By the end of the day, the web had extended to four separate events held at the ballroom over three days, from Dec 1 to 3.

Investigation into the possible causes of the incident is ongoing. The authorities have taken food and environmental samples for testing and food handlers will undergo stool screening.

The nine people hospitalised are in stable condition and the authorities advised members of the public who have visited the hotel's Grand Ballroom to monitor their health status closely, and seek medical attention if they experience gastroenteritis symptoms.

In a joint statement on Wednesday night, the Ministry of Health (MOH), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said that so far, no case has been linked to the other food-and-beverage premises in Mandarin Orchard Singapore.

The NEA has suspended the banquet kitchen serving the Grand Ballroom — one of the main wedding venues in the Orchard Road hotel — and closed the ballroom for disinfection. The suspension and closure will last until the NEA is satisfied that the public health risks have been addressed.

All ready-to-eat, thawed and perishable food items from the banquet kitchen will be disposed, and the hotel will do a thorough cleaning and sanitisation of its premises, including equipment, utensils, work surfaces and toilets.

The hotel apologised to its guests and said that it would contact the organisers of affected upcoming events to make alternative arrangements. It will also “assist in ensuring their requirements and concerns are addressed”.

SOME GUESTS CONCERNED, OTHERS NOT

While some hotel guests were taken aback and concerned after learning of the outbreak, other guests told TODAY that they were not unduly worried as they would be having most of their meals outside the hotel.

A 68-year-old Malaysian guest who wanted to be known only as Mr KB, said: “Of course, I am concerned, (because) this kind of things can happen to anybody. I thought (Mandarin Orchard Singapore) was one of the best (hotels)… I’m not sure how such a thing could happen.”

Mr KB, who checked into the hotel on Wednesday, said that he would take the “extra precaution” of staying away from the “raw and not-so-cooked food at the morning breakfast buffet”.

An Indonesian guest, who gave her name as just Ms Nadia, said that she was “surprised” to hear about the incident.

“I (have) stayed at the hotel many times, but this is the first time I’ve heard of a food poisoning case,” said the 45-year-old who is on a two-day vacation here.

Student Rizki Giovanni, 20, said that he was not informed by the hotel upon his arrival on Wednesday.

“This case seems quite important, so I think we should be informed in case we wish to order room service,” he said.

Myanmar businessman Aung Naing Thu was among the hotel guests who were not too worried.

“I (will) mostly eat outside of the hotel. But I will take the incident as a warning and perhaps not order room service. I want to eat the local food outside anyway,” said the 36-year-old.

Mr Christ Setiawan, 41, a businessman from Indonesia, said: “I am not worried. Maybe it is just one dish that caused the problem, so it might be an isolated incident.” 

WORKERS UNDER TEMPORARY SUSPENSION WILL BE PAID

Pending results of the investigation, Mandarin Orchard said that its workers who handled food during the relevant banquet events have been relieved of their duties until they have completed all necessary medical tests and are cleared by the authorities.

Its spokesperson said that it will pay for the tests that staff members undergo, and those who are temporarily suspended will continue to be paid.

The hotel posted on Facebook that it was “distraught” over the food poisoning cases.

Several other incidents have been reported in the last four weeks.

Popular eatery Spize on River Valley Road was suspended on Nov 9, after 81 cases of gastroenteritis were traced to pre-packed meals prepared by the restaurant for a Deepavali celebration organised by security firm Brink’s Singapore. A 38-year-old man died on Nov 14 after allegedly consuming food from Spize and went under intensive care in hospital.

About two weeks later, on Nov 23, 190 people fell ill after eating food from TungLok Catering at a Singapore Civil Defence Force event.

On Nov 27, 131 kindergarten pupils and teachers fell ill after eating food from FoodTalks Caterer & Manufacturer.

The Health Ministry said last week that there was no “definitive link” among the three cases of food poisoning in November. However, its figures show a 40 per cent spike in the number of food poisoning cases in Singapore from January to October this year (1,768), compared to the same period last year (1,265).

Source: First published in TODAYonline December 5 2018

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Richard
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503 comments
7 December 2018
Shame to hear about this. It can happen and obviously wasn't done on purpose, just unfortunate circumstances. Hopefully it doesn't do too much damage to a reputable name.

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