No trace of salmonella found in food samples taken from Itacho, but SFA taking action on unregistered food handler

Facebook user Marc Wong wrote that his wife was admitted to Mount Alvernia Hospital on Dec 15, 2019, and she was diagnosed with salmonella. PHOTO: MARC WONG/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - An unregistered food handler was found working at Itacho Sushi at Jewel Changi Airport, but salmonella was not detected in food samples from the restaurant, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said on Thursday (Dec 26).

This was after the food safety agency conducted an inspection at the restaurant on Dec 18 following an incident on Dec 13 where a woman was alleged to have fallen ill with salmonella after she dined at the restaurant.

Salmonella bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and typhoid fever very soon after it enters the body.

The SFA said it will be taking enforcement action against the restaurant on the lapse over the unlicensed food handler.

The agency's statement on Thursday came after Facebook user Marc Wong listed a timeline of the events leading up to his wife's diagnosis of salmonella and warned other users not to eat at the restaurant.

He wrote that the couple ate at the restaurant on Dec 13 and his wife had a fever and stomach pains the next day.

In the same post, he wrote that his wife was then admitted to Mount Alvernia Hospital on Dec 15 and she was diagnosed with salmonella. He added that he had contacted the restaurant about the incident.

"Even when my wife has (been) discharged (on Dec 22), she is in the weakest physical condition I have ever seen her in... So please, my friends, do not spoil your Christmas and New Year holidays by dining in at Itacho Sushi at Jewel Changi Airport or other outlets - at least until reassurance have been given that incidents such as my wife's will not happen again," he wrote.

The Straits Times has contacted Itacho Sushi for comment.

Chinese daily evening paper Lianhe Wanbao reported on Thursday that in response to their queries, Itacho said that closed-circuit television footage revealed no sanitary issues and that 436 people ate at the restaurant on the evening of the incident and no other complaints were filed.

A spokesman from the restaurant told Lianhe Wanbao that it has more than 10 years of business experience and has always been in the "A" grade in terms of hygiene standards.

The spokesman said that hygiene is very important to the restaurant, and that the ingredients sold in the restaurant are checked. The chef is also required to inspect the ingredients twice a day and clean the workplace every hour.

The SFA said that it received feedback on an alleged food poisoning incident at Itacho Sushi's Ion Orchard outlet, but an inspection did not detect any hygiene lapses and no enforcement action was taken.

The SFA reminded food operators to adhere to good food hygiene and preparation practices.

The agency said that it conducts regular inspections of food retail establishments to ensure compliance with hygiene standards, and it will not hesitate to take enforcement action if necessary.

Members of the public who come across poor hygiene practices in food establishments should provide feedback to the SFA via its online feedback form or call its contact centre on 6805-2871.

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