Online grocer recalls chilled food

Redmart voluntarily acts after it finds meat, seafood not stored at correct temperature

Online grocer Redmart has voluntarily recalled chilled meat and seafood which were not stored in accordance with temperature standards at its Jurong warehouse.

Explaining the recall, a spokesman said on Tuesday: "The temperature in one of our cold chambers could not be maintained at the optimal level for storing fresh meat and seafood."

So, on Oct 1, the four-year-old store contacted consumers who bought and received the affected products between Sept 22 and Oct 1, and gave them a full refund and goodwill store credit.

The spokesman said that "a very small number reported potential illness", and that Redmart was investigating further.

Most customers who contacted the store were checking the status of their refunds, he added.

The online supermarket also put up a recall notice on its website and social media platforms.

It also discarded all affected items in the warehouse and asked customers to do the same.

Some of the items that were found not to be stored at the right temperatures were Australian pork, Kee Song chicken and Hai Sia seafood.

Redmart also cancelled future orders for the affected products, and told the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) of the incident.

About 2 per cent of Redmart's customers were affected in this case, the first time such an incident had happened, the spokesman said.

AVA said it was aware of the recall and that the affected products were no longer on sale.

"Consumers are advised to dispose of the affected products and not to consume them," an AVA spokesman said.

Consuming products which have not been stored at the right temperatures can cause food poisoning, said general practitioner Yik Keng Yeong. "When the temperature is too high, bacteria can multiply. Depending on the amount of bacteria, symptoms can appear in one or two hours, or in a few days," said Dr Yik.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

While its cold chamber has been fixed, Redmart, which started selling chilled and frozen items last October, is ensuring that the temperatures are stable before storing and selling these products again, possibly by the end of the week.

"A full investigation is under way to examine the cause of this incident and to ensure that such an incident does not happen again," its spokesman said.

Mrs Dinah Yeo, 38, who works in the financial services industry, was one of the affected customers. She has been ordering products from Redmart regularly for about a year, and decided to get chilled fish delivered to her home recently so as to avoid going out in the hazy conditions.

She said that by the time she received an e-mail message from Redmart, she and her five-year-old son had consumed the food without incident. "I am glad that they took responsibility for it. It is not easy to own up to something like that. If they didn't, nobody may have known about it," she added.

Mrs Yeo said that while she would continue to order bulky items from Redmart,she is not sure if she would order fresh food again.

• Additional reporting by Jessica Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2015, with the headline 'Online grocer recalls chilled food'. Print Edition | Subscribe