SINGAPORE - A total of 183 food poisoning cases "could be linked" to the popular durian pastries prepared at the Goodwood Park Hotel bakery as at Tuesday (May 3).
"Since the news (of its licence suspension) broke in the media, more (people) have stepped forward to notify that they too, may have been affected after consumption of the durian pastries," said the Health Ministry (MOH), National Environment Agency (NEA) and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) in a statement on Thursday (May 5). The bakery's licence was suspended with effect from April 22.
After the first cluster of five cases was reported on March 15, MOH and NEA investigated but no hygiene lapses were found. There were no other cases in the following weeks, so these were treated as isolated cases.
But, about three weeks later, a second cluster of cases was reported on April 4. MOH stepped up investigations, sending food samples for testing and food handlers for screening. Later, more cases were reported from April 12, with increasing numbers during the week of April 18.
Joint investigations at the bakery by the three agencies on April 13 found some lapses in food handling in the durian pastry kitchen. AVA also conducted upstream checks at the suppliers of food ingredients, including the durian pulp supplied to Goodwood Park Hotel. No food safety lapses were found there.
After 76 cases of food poisoning were linked to the bakery's durian pastries, the bakery's food establishment licence was suspended from April 22.
Further investigations by the three agencies are ongoing. NEA and MOH are working with the hotel to ensure the kitchen is thoroughly cleaned, and all food handlers undergo medical screening and are retrained on safe food handling practices.
Meanwhile, the suspension of the bakery will be in force until the lapses that might have contributed to the outbreak have been rectified, the agencies said.
Goodwood Park began offering durian desserts in 1983. Its durian-flavoured offerings have included puffs and cakes as well as seasonal treats like durian Christmas log cakes and mooncakes.