Food caterer fined for hygiene lapses after 345 suffer food poisoning
Catering firm Rasel Catering Singapore was fined $4,800 on Wednesday for multiple hygiene lapses under the Environmental Public Health (Food Hygiene) Regulations, said the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).
Last November, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and SFA received reports of gastroenteritis involving 345 people after they ate food prepared by Rasel. Gastroenteritis symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting.
MOH and SFA then inspected Rasel’s premises and found several hygiene lapses, including cockroach infestations, usage of a dirty food container and pathogens in ready-to-eat food items.
Those who reported gastroenteritis symptoms sought outpatient treatment, self-medicated, or have recovered without treatment, MOH and SFA said on Nov 19 last year.
On Wednesday, the SFA said it suspended Rasel’s food business operations “in the interest of public health” from Nov 18 to Dec 29 last year, and directed the licensee to rectify the lapses and take necessary measures to improve the food safety practices and the cleanliness of its premises. The agency also downgraded Rasel’s food hygiene grade from A to C in March this year, with the grade to be reviewed.
Food handlers working in Rasel’s premises were required to reattend and pass the Food Safety Course Level 1 and test negative for food-borne pathogens before they could resume work as food handlers, SFA and MOH said last November. The appointed food hygiene officer working at the premises was also required to reattend and pass the Food Safety Course Level 3 before resuming work.
Rasel was also required to clean and sanitise the premises, including equipment and utensils, and had to dispose all ready-to-eat food and perishable food items, SFA and MOH said then.
According to Rasel’s website, the company prepares meals for events such as weddings, parties and corporate themed events. It has bagged numerous awards such as the Established Brands in Singapore Prestige Brand Award in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
The catering firm said in a Facebook post in November last year that it had been informed by MOH of two staff members who had been infected by pathogens. It added that it would “heighten (its) vigilance in upholding the hygiene and cleanliness practices and standards”.
“Food safety is a joint responsibility as food can be contaminated anywhere along the food chain,” said SFA on Wednesday.
“While SFA continues to be vigilant and works to ensure that regulatory measures are in place and properly enforced, the industry and consumers must also play their part.”
SFA reminded all food establishments to ensure that their premises are clean and well-maintained, as well as adhere to proper food hygiene and food safety requirements.
It added that it will not hesitate to take firm action against anyone found to be in violation of the Environmental Public Health Act.
Those convicted of such offences can be fined up to $2,000, and in the case of a continuing offence, can be further fined up to $100 for every day or part thereof during which the offence continues after conviction.
Those who come across poor hygiene practices in food establishments are advised not to patronise them, and instead provide feedback via SFA’s online feedback form with details for follow-up investigations.