Kids who had food poisoning after lunch in holiday camp have recovered, back at school

The outbreak of food poisoning traced to the consumption of food prepared by FoodTalks Caterer & Manufacturer is currently being investigated. PHOTO: FOODTALKS CATERER & MANUFACTURER

SINGAPORE - Some children who came down with food poisoning while attending a holiday camp have recovered and returned to school.

A total of 131 people fell ill on Monday (Nov 26) after eating packed meals prepared by FoodTalks Catering & Manufacturer, which is located at Shimei East Kitchen in Bedok.

The Straits Times understands they were given packets of fried macaroni.

Of those affected, 115 were children and 16 were teachers. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said there were no further cases of gastroenteritis reported on Wednesday.

Those who fell ill were attending a Passport to Primary 1 camp organised by Learning Horizon for six-year-olds. Learning Horizon is part of the Busy Bees Asia Group which runs several pre-school chains, including Small Wonder, Pat's Schoolhouse and Brighton Montessori.

Parents who spoke to The Straits Times said children who attended the camp came from several schools under Busy Bees Asia.

In an email sent to parents, a Learning Horizon spokesman said "more than 60 children and teachers" had vomited on Monday. The camp, originally slated to run from Monday to Wednesday, was suspended "with immediate effect". A full refund will be given to parents.

Busy Bees Asia's director of operations and curriculum Ronald Kwong said the company is working with the authorities to determine the cause of the food poisoning. "All affected have received the required medical attention, and none of our students or teachers had to be admitted to hospital and (all) were discharged within the same day," he said.

On Tuesday, MOH, the National Environment Agency and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said in a joint statement that they were investigating an outbreak of gastroenteritis traced to the consumption of food prepared by FoodTalks Caterer & Manufacturer.

Food handlers were sent for stool screening, and food and environmental samples were taken for testing.

FoodTalks declined to comment when contacted. According to its website, it was established in 2004 and it provides catering services for corporate and private functions, and packet meals for school camps and company luncheons.

Ms Diyana Sudarsono's six-year-old daughter, who attended Small Wonder pre-school in Sengkang, was among those affected.

Ms Sudarsono, 32, said her daughter felt unwell after eating fried macaroni for lunch. "She was quite lucky, she had a bit of abdominal cramps in the evening and the school told us to bring her to a doctor," she said.

Her daughter was well enough to return to school on Tuesday, but some of her friends had more severe symptoms.

Another parent, who wants to be identified only as Alice, said her son's friends had fallen ill after eating the packed food provided.

"His friends had watery stools after eating some of the packed food, but they were able to attend school today," the 37-year-old said on Wednesday.

A teacher from a pre-school which also participated in the camp said children from her centre have mostly recovered, and many of them returned to school on Tuesday. She declined to be named.

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