Mandarin Orchard sanitising ballroom, opens 24-hour hotline after food poisoning incident

The hotel is working to clean and sanitise the Grand Mandarin Ballroom and dispose of all ready-to-eat food, as instructed by the authorities. According to the Mandarin Orchard, organisers of all upcoming events have been told to make alternative arr
The hotel is working to clean and sanitise the Grand Mandarin Ballroom and dispose of all ready-to-eat food, as instructed by the authorities.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

When Mr C. Tan attended a wedding at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel's Grand Mandarin Ballroom last Saturday, all was well. He tucked into a sumptuous sit-down dinner and gave the happy couple his congratulations.

But things took an unhappy turn that night when he found himself rushing to the bathroom every hour, with pain in his abdomen.

He ended up self-medicating and falling asleep on his bedroom floor.

Mr Tan, who is in his 30s, thought he was the only guest from the wedding who suffered from food poisoning. He soon found out, after reading news reports on Wednesday, that he was not the only one suffering from a nasty bout of food poisoning.

"I thought it was the food I had for supper at a hawker centre," he said. "But there were nine people hospitalised after events at Mandarin Orchard, so it must have been something to do with the dinner."

Mr Tan is most certainly not alone in his suffering. According to a statement from the National Environment Agency (NEA), about 175 cases of gastroenteritis were reported after four separate events held at the Grand Mandarin Ballroom at Mandarin Orchard Hotel.

It was earlier reported that nine people had been hospitalised and were in stable condition.

This is the fourth incident of mass food poisoning reported locally in the last month.

When contacted, a spokesman for Mandarin Orchard, Ms Francine Loh, said the hotel had yet to establish the total number of cases among its banquet guests. A 24-hour hotline (6831-6184) has since been set up for banquet guests such as Mr Tan to reach out and register their complaints.

"We started reaching out to affected parties by phone on Tuesday and with their permission, through personal visits. We will continue to make contact until we cover all reported cases to offer our support and assistance," she said.

The hotel is also working to clean and sanitise the Grand Mandarin Ballroom and dispose of all ready-to-eat food, as instructed by the authorities.

 
 

This will be carried out by Wednesday next week, the spokesman said, when NEA further inspects the affected premises in the hotel.

When The Straits Times visited the hotel yesterday afternoon, staff from the NEA were spotted wearing masks and attending to paperwork behind the locked glass doors of the Grand Mandarin Ballroom.

The NEA, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) have been undertaking joint investigations since Tuesday - collecting food and environmental samples for testing, and sending food handlers for stool screening.

The banquet service at the Grand Mandarin Ballroom has been suspended by the NEA until further notice.

According to the Mandarin Orchard, organisers of all upcoming events have been told to make alternative arrangements, with assistance from the hotel.

One of the events which was to have taken place at the Grand Mandarin Ballroom today was a conference organised by Nanyang Technological University.

The event, expected to be attended by 150 guests, was moved to the Grand Hyatt Singapore in Scotts Road.

But it appears to be business as usual at Mandarin Orchard's other outlets such as Triple Three restaurant, which was seen to be full of patrons yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile, people attending conferences at the hotel's other ballrooms - the Grange Ballroom on the fifth floor and the Imperial Ballroom on the 35th floor - seemed unfazed by the food scare.

"We just had lunch here at the hotel," said a conference attendee in her 40s at the Grange Ballroom, who declined to give her name.

"We are not concerned as the food is not from the banquet kitchen. The hotel has assured us that the food is safe to eat."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2018, with the headline 'Mandarin Orchard sanitising ballroom, opens 24-hour hotline'. Print Edition | Subscribe