SINGAPORE - Eight Temasek Junior College (TJC) staff have been hospitalised for gastroenteritis symptoms after eating food prepared by Chilli Api Catering last Friday (March 12).
They are currently in stable condition, said TJC principal Low Ay Nar.
Responding to queries from The Straits Times, Mrs Low said that as of Monday (March 15), a total of 43 staff have reported gastroenteritis symptoms after the school provided all its staff with 216 bento lunch boxes from Chilli Api Catering to thank them for their work in Term 1.
Term 1 ended last Friday (March 12).
“On March 13, some staff who had eaten the bento lunch boxes reported gastroenteritis symptoms. On receiving these reports, the school immediately advised all staff who had consumed the same lunch boxes and were experiencing similar symptoms to visit a doctor,” said Mrs Low.
Gastroenteritis symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting.
Mrs Low said the lunch boxes were delivered and consumed separately after the staff collected the bento boxes.
She added that TJC is monitoring the health of all affected staff closely and will extend support to them.
It is also working with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Singapore Food Agency (SFA) to assist in investigations.
This comes after Chilli Api Catering was ordered to suspend its operations from Sunday following a food poisoning outbreak.
The affected TJC staff are believed to be among the 82 people who fell ill with gastroenteritis symptoms after eating food prepared by the catering firm between last Wednesday and last Friday.
Fourteen of the 82 have been hospitalised and are in a stable condition, MOH and SFA said in a statement on Sunday.
The operations of the catering company, which is located at 3015 Bedok North Street 5, Shimei East Kitchen, will be suspended until further notice.
Chilli Api Catering, which provides halal bento sets for corporate and private events, specialises in Peranakan cuisine.
This is not the caterer’s first brush with the authorities due to lapses in their food hygiene.
In June 2019, Chilli Api Catering had their hygiene grade lowered to “C” after 24 people fell ill with gastroenteritis symptoms from consuming food from the caterer in December 2018.
SFA said then that the food caterer’s premises would be under surveillance until the food hygiene grade was reviewed in 12 months’ time.
According to the SFA website, as at Jan 22 this year, Chilli Api Catering had an “A” grade and no suspension history in the past year.
When contacted, Chilli Api said it has been in the catering business for nearly two decades, observes best practices with regards to hygiene, and that it was "saddened" to learn of the recent cases of gastroenteritis.
"Our concerns are with the well-being of affected guests," the management team of Chilli Api Catering said in a statement. "Investigations are underway. We are working closely with the authorities to determine the probable cause of these cases."
ST has contacted SFA for more details on what their review of the catering kitchen had found.
Members of the public who come across poor hygiene practices in food establishments are advised to not patronise them and to report details to SFA via the online feedback form.