Officials in Singapore are investigating if two typhoid fever cases are linked to eating at a food outlet.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) and Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said two people fell ill after having food prepared by Hooi Kee Eating House on Clemenceau Avenue in Singapore Shopping Centre.
Both people ate at this site several times between Jan. 2 and 18. They were later admitted to hospital. One has since been discharged and the other is in stable condition in hospital.
SFA has suspended food operations at Hooi Kee Eating House until further notice.
The agency advised people who have consumed food from Hooi Kee Eating House and then developed prolonged fever to consult their general practitioner and tell the doctor their food history.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella typhi. Items which could be contaminated include raw or ready-to-eat foods, such as raw milk or their products, seafood, and fresh produce including fruits and vegetables.
An infected person usually has a prolonged fever which may be accompanied by other symptoms such as headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. People infected can spread it to others. Ways to prevent typhoid fever include good hand hygiene, safe handling, cooking and consumption of food.
All food handlers working in the implicated premises must re-attend and pass a food safety course and test negative for foodborne pathogens, before they can go back to work. The appointed food hygiene officer(s) are also required to re-attend and pass a food and beverage hygiene audit course before they can resume this work. The outlet has been told to clean and sanitize the premises, including equipment and utensils.
Supporting WHO in the Western Pacific
Meanwhile, the Singapore Food Agency’s food safety monitoring and forensics department has been designated as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Food Contamination Monitoring from 2020 to 2024.
The department, under the National Centre for Food Science (NCFS), will use its expertise in foodborne pathogens and toxins to support WHO food safety initiatives in the Western Pacific region.
This includes providing technical assistance and testing services to investigate food safety incidents, with a focus on chemical contaminants and natural toxins and contributing monitoring data on levels of emerging chemical contaminants and natural toxins in food. The data will be used as a reference for setting food standards regionally and internationally.
Tan Lee Kim, deputy chief executive officer of SFA, said he recognized the importance of collaboration with international bodies and other food safety agencies.
“This designation is a testament to NCFS’ food testing and research capabilities, which are critical in supporting our mission to ensure and secure a supply of safe food for Singapore,” he said.
It is one of two such sites with the other being the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA).
Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said the SFA is a valuable member in the network of collaborating centers.
“We are pleased to have partnered with Singapore’s food safety authorities since 1992 to improve food safety in the Western Pacific, and look forward to more years of collaboration.”
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)