NEA suspends licence of TungLok Catering after 190 at SCDF event fall ill

The National Environment Agency said the suspension of TungLok Catering's licence, which is in the interest of public health, will be until further notice. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/TUNGLOK EVENTS & CATERING

The catering arm of well-known restaurant group TungLok at the Max Atria at Singapore Expo had its licence suspended last Friday after 190 people reported being ill after eating food prepared at its premises.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a notice on its website last Friday that it is working with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to investigate multiple cases of gastroenteritis traced to the consumption of food from TungLok Catering at 1 Expo Drive.

In response to queries from The Sunday Times, the authorities said none of the 190 people affected was hospitalised.

Gastroenteritis is an intestinal condition that can be caused by a virus or a bacterial infection, with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea.

Mr Andrew Tjioe, president and chief executive of TungLok Group, told ST yesterday that seven kitchen staff members had prepared more than 1,000 bento boxes for the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) Lifesavers' Connect public exhibition last Thursday. The bento boxes each contained white rice and three dishes, including curry chicken and vegetables, he said.

"We have been running our catering business at the Singapore Expo for at least six years and this is the first such incident," he said. "Our kitchens have all been certified 'A'. Things like this can happen and we hope to get to the root cause of it."

He added that the group was fully prepared to cooperate with the authorities in their investigations.

The NEA, MOH and AVA, in a joint notice yesterday, said that as part of the investigations, TungLok Catering's food handlers were sent for stool screening, and food and environmental samples were taken for testing.

All food handlers working at TungLok Catering are now required to attend and pass NEA's Basic Food Hygiene Course again before being allowed to resume work as food handlers.

TungLok Catering has ceased kitchen operations at Singapore Expo. NEA has reminded food operators that they should observe good food and personal hygiene practices at all times and anyone coming across those contravening the law can call NEA's 24-hour contact centre on 1800-225-5632.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 25, 2018, with the headline NEA suspends licence of TungLok Catering after 190 at SCDF event fall ill. Subscribe