Food poisoning hits East View Sec students, teachers

The school's canteen has been cleaned and disinfected.
PHOTO: Food poisoning hits East View Sec students, teachers

It was just one dish from the school canteen.

But Nur Syaza Osman ended up spending the next few days in hospital because of it.

And she was not the only one.

Last Friday, several East View Secondary students who ate from the Muslim stall were also felled by food poisoning, and some had to be hospitalised.

While the school in Tampines and the Ministry of Education (MOE) confirmed the food poisoning incident, they declined to say exactly how many had been affected.

Students The New Paper spoke to said they heard that more than 10 of their peers and at least two teachers had been affected.

But Syaza, 17, who was warded at Changi General Hospital (CGH) on Sunday, said her principal had told her 95 per cent of the school's Muslim students had been hit.

VICTIM #1

When TNP visited her at CGH yesterday, she said she ate roti kirai - a web-like crepe made with flour, eggs and coconut milk - from the canteen stall.

When she got home, she suffered a bad stomachache, and started having diarrhoea and vomiting the next morning.

When medicine from the general practitioner did not help, she was referred to CGH on Sunday.

Doctors told her she had been hit with food poisoning, which caused her intestines to swell.

The Secondary 4 student was put on a drip and although she is recovering, she was not sure when she would be discharged.

VICTIM #2

He told TNP from his hospital bed that the pain was initially so bad, he was too weak to walk and could barely eat.

The 16-year-old was admitted to CGH on Monday.

While he was well enough to get out of bed, he said the pain still lingers.

VICTIM #3

The uncle of another affected student called the TNP hotline after his nephew came home last Friday with diarrhoea, which lasted three days.

Mr Ishak, 67, a retiree, said: "He was in such pain that when he walked, he was bending."

His nephew visited a general practitioner on Saturday, but his condition did not improve.

"His father was very worried," said Mr Ishak.

On Sunday, the teen's parents took him to CGH. Mr Ishak said his nephew recovered after being placed on a two-hour drip. He was then given three days' medical leave.

The doctor told them the food poisoning was due to contaminated food.

Mr Ishak said: "At the hospital, the boy met a classmate who was warded for the same reason. But the classmate was sent to KK Women's and Children's Hospital for further treatment."

It was then that they realised the food poisoning originated in the school.

Mr Ishak said his nephew had eaten roti canai from a stall in school.

The boy's father had also alerted MOE about the case.

STALL CLOSED

Students told TNP that the Muslim stall has been closed since Monday.

The school's vice-principal, Mr Muhammad Farizal Umar Effendi, said the school is in touch with the affected students and staff, and is monitoring their condition.

The school alerted the Health Ministry and the National Environment Agency on Sunday and both agencies are conducting their investigations.

"The school canteen was also cleaned and disinfected on Sunday, and all vendors reminded to observe proper hygiene procedures when handling food," said the vice-principal.

Following the Geylang Serai food poisoning case in 2009, the issue of hygiene was brought up in Parliament in March 2011. Two people died of food poisoning in that incident.

Then-Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor had said the ministry would be targeting caterers because they serve food to a large number of people at a time and any lapse could result in mass food poisoning.

A rule implemented in February 2012 requires caterers to display clear labels on meal packets and buffet tables to indicate when the food must be consumed by.

PAST CASES

July 2011

Nearly 100 students were struck with suspected food poisoning after returning from a school trip to Bintan. The Christ Church Secondary School students suffered symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting and fever following the excursion.

Separately, 85 Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' Primary School pupils were hit by gastroenteritis, or stomach virus. The girls were believed to have eaten food that was prepared at the neighbouring canteen and taken to the school.

May 2011

At least 235 children and 12 teachers from eight preschool centres were affected by food poisoning.

Officers from NEA and MOH conducted inspections on the caterer, who had provided food to all the affected preschools. Other than a dirty refrigerator door lining, no other hygiene lapses were found.

The company's licence was suspended in addition to a $300 fine and four demerit points.

November 2010

Up to 106 students experienced vomiting and diarrhoea after eating at the Singapore Sports School's dining hall.

A probe by the authorities found that cordial drinks and chicken frank rolls may have been the cause. The company that provided the food offered medical compensation.

February 2010

Seventeen Ai Tong School pupils were taken to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital because of suspected food poisoning. The Primary 6 pupils had experienced severe stomachaches after eating potato chips, cheese balls and prawn crackers that were bought from a supermarket.

This article was published on May 1 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.