A caterer has been suspended after an outbreak of gastroenteritis across four PCF Sparkletots centres, which led to at least 109 people falling ill, with 15 taken to hospital.
This is the third case of gastroenteritis in pre-schools in recent months. A Feb 1 lunch at PCF’s Toa Payoh outlet left 14 children vomiting and having diarrhoea. And, on Feb 26, the authorities announced that 31 people developed gastroenteritis at Tanglin MindChamps pre-school.
On Wednesday morning (March 27), the Ministry of Health (MOH), National Environment Agency (NEA) and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) told The Straits Times that they are investigating the incident.
In response to media queries, PCF Sparkletots confirmed that the four pre-schools affected were the centres located at Blocks 210, 270, 290A and 298B Sengkang Central.
“We are taking this matter seriously and our priority is to ensure that our children receive the necessary medical care and attention,” the statement said.
The centres are also in close contact with parents of affected pupils and monitoring their conditions.
Cleaning and disinfection protocols have been carried out at the centres to reduce the risks of further contamination, PCF added.
PCF Sparkletots is monitoring the situation in seven other centres which are served by Kate’s Catering and is assisting the authorities with the investigation.
“Whilst the cause of the children’s illnesses has yet to be determined, as a precautionary measure, PCF Sparkletots has suspended this caterer’s services at all 11 centres for an indefinite period of time,” PCF said.
The pre-school operator has arranged for meals to be provided by a certified in-house cook for the time being, and will continue to monitor this temporary arrangement closely, the statement added.
The authorities were notified of the first cluster of cases last Friday, and conducted an inspection of the caterer’s premises on the same day.
On Monday, however, additional clusters of cases were reported, prompting the NEA to instruct Kate’s Catering to suspend its operations with effect from Tuesday, pending investigations by the various agencies.
As part of the investigations, food handlers were sent for stool screening, and food and environmental samples were taken for testing.
Last year, 131 cases of gastroenteritis were reportedafter people consumed food prepared by FoodTalks Caterer & Manufacturer for a learning camp. None of the victims were hospitalised.
Do you know someone who had a bout of food poisoning? Here are some tips to ease the recovering period.
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.
(Photos and video: The Straits Times)
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