Firm fined $20,000 for food poisoning

Man Fu Yuan Restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bugis has been shut down temporarily after being linked to five incidents of suspected food poisoning.

SINGAPORE - The licensee of a restaurant linked to five cases of food poisoning was fined $20,000 yesterday for selling food prepared in insanitary conditions.

The incidents between Dec 26 and 30, 2012, at Hotel InterContinental led to 443 guests developing symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting and fever.

BCH Hotel Investment, represented by its general manager Shantha Asiri De Silva, pleaded guilty a week ago to five charges under the Sale of Food Act.

The food for the four wedding banquets and a dinner and dance was catered by the hotel's Man Fu Yuan Restaurant.

The court heard that the National Environment Agency received information on Dec 29 that several guests had developed symptoms of fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and nausea after attending a wedding banquet at the Middle Road hotel three days earlier.

Subsequently, there were several other reports of individuals developing similar symptoms after attending functions between Dec 26 and 30.

Investigations showed that 443 out of 1,590 guests who attended five separate events developed symptoms of gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the stomach and intestines - typically caused by viral infection or bacteria.

Several were also found to have contracted the norovirus, a stomach bug that is hard to detect. The outbreak was also revealed by the investigations to be linked to contaminated food and surfaces such as plates and glasses provided by Man Fu Yuan Restaurant. The restaurant was closed for about a month and reopened in time for Chinese New Year last year.

The company said it brought in a food safety consultant immediately after the incident to review its measures.

According to its lawyer, the outbreak was spread by a staff member who contracted the stomach flu bug outside the restaurant. The company could have been fined up to $5,000 on each charge.

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