Pow Sing eateries to reopen

Both got green light yesterday after licences were suspended over food poisoning outbreak

Pow Sing Restaurant director Steven Tan (left) and Pow Sing Kitchen director Lee Chin Soo received news yesterday afternoon that their operating licence suspensions had been lifted.
Pow Sing Restaurant director Steven Tan (left) and Pow Sing Kitchen director Lee Chin Soo received news yesterday afternoon that their operating licence suspensions had been lifted.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Two eateries known for their chicken rice will reopen tomorrow, after having their licences suspended following a food poisoning outbreak.

Pow Sing Restaurant and Pow Sing Kitchen, both in Serangoon Gardens, were given the green light yesterday after an investigation by three agencies linked 80 cases to the former and eight to the latter.

While no customers were hospitalised, 30 sought outpatient treatment, while the rest self-medicated.

The Ministry of Health, National Environment Agency (NEA) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a statement: "Investigations showed that there were several hygiene lapses in the food preparation process leading to cross contamination of food."

They said food samples from Pow Sing Restaurant had high levels of bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and Bacillus cereus. The eatery also had an unregistered food handler and failed to maintain temperature records of its fridges and freezers.

At Pow Sing Kitchen, E.coli and Bacillus cereus were found in food samples. There was poor general housekeeping and cleanliness, and some faulty chillers and freezers.

The AVA did not find any food safety lapses during checks of the eateries' ingredient suppliers.

The NEA said it will take enforcement action against both restaurants, but did not give details.

The licence suspension, which went into force on July 13 for Pow Sing Restaurant and July 16 for Pow Sing Kitchen, was lifted after the eateries complied with NEA measures, such as disposal of food, cleaning and sanitising the premises and sending all food handlers to retake a basic food hygiene course.

Both eateries also submitted plans to ensure good hygiene standards during food preparation.

The statement added: "NEA will place Pow Sing Restaurant and Pow Sing Kitchen under close surveillance to ensure that the licensees are putting into practice what they have submitted in their plans."

Last night, both eateries were preparing to reopen. Pow Sing Restaurant director Steven Tan told The Straits Times that even when they were closed, some of the 48 staff were still rostered every day to keep the premises clean and maintain the equipment.

The Pow Sing Group apologised to customers who suffered food poisoning. "We told them to visit a doctor and bring us the receipt, and we will compensate them the amount in the bill, be it public or private clinic," he said. In total, the group paid about $1,000 in medical bills.

Mr Tan estimated that the closure cost the restaurants about $400,000 in revenue.

The company has operated for 33 years. Pow Sing Kitchen's director, Mr Lee Chin Soo, said: "We now have to win back the trust of our customers."

However, customers did not seem fazed about the incident. Ms Joyce Chan, 56, a traditional Chinese physician from a neighbouring shop, said: "I believe it is a one-off incident."

Music teacher Ivan Tan, 31, will also continue to eat there. He said: "I was surprised and a little bit disappointed when they closed, as I eat there almost every day."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2016, with the headline 'Pow Sing eateries to reopen'. Print Edition | Subscribe