Food contamination alert system is possible

Firstly, a correction to my previous post: The authorities took not 2 days, but 3 days, to shut down the stall. It was revealed in TODAY on Thursday that the first reports of food poisoning from that stall appeared on a Wed 1 Apr. The stall was not ordered closed by NEA until Sat 4 Apr morning.

I’ve received some useful feedback from friends regarding my previous post, where I questioned why NEA officers took so long to shut down the Geylang Serai rojak stall that was allegedly responsible for three deaths and over 150 cases of food poisoning.

Some felt that I was being unfair by expecting NEA to react faster than it did, and that I appeared to be pinning the blame on NEA for the food poisoning.

While I don’t think NEA is completely blameless, I never said that they are entirely to blame. The NEA, Ministry of Health (MOH), the stall holder, doctors and even some of stall patrons could have played a part to avert this tragedy, or at least prevent it from ballooning into this nightmare involving over 150 people. Most of all, I feel it is “the system” which is to blame, and not any individual person or agency. I am not interested in playing any finger-pointing games at this point, but to suggest how the system can be improved to avert future mass outbreaks of food poisoning.

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Authorities took 2 days to shut down killer rojak stall?

I am very concerned over what seems to be a lack of efficient procedures in place to avert mass public health tragedies like the recent Geylang Serai rojak stall food poisoning incident.

Three lives have been lost (including one unborn baby), and 146 people have been affected by the food contamination, 48 of whom were hospitalised.

CNA reported that stall patrons started to fall sick between April 2nd (Thu) and 4th (Sat) with food poisoning symptoms such as severe abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhoea. However it was only at 8am on Sat April 4th that officials from the National Environment Agency (NEA) arrived to shut down the stall.

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