Mandarin Orchard food poisoning: 'Strong evidence of severe contamination', say authorities

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

The Grand Mandarin Ballroom at Mandarin Orchard Singapore. (Photo: Meritus Hotels and Resorts)

SINGAPORE: Authorities on Friday (Dec 14) said there was strong evidence of severe contamination of the Grand Ballroom at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel, where a food poisoning outbreak occurred earlier this month.

A total of 315 people fell ill after attending five separate events at the Grand Ballroom held between Dec 1 and 3.

After completing their investigations into outbreak at Mandarin Orchard Hotel, as well as those involving FoodTalks Caterer and Manufacturer and Tung Lok Millennium, the Ministry of Health, the National Environment Agency and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore issued a joint statement on Friday saying that the outbreaks were not related.

On the incident at the Mandarin Orchard, the statement said that investigations suggest that this was an outbreak of norovirus gastroenteritis.

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It added: "There is strong evidence of severe contamination of the Grand Ballroom with norovirus from poor environmental and personal hygiene practices.

"Norovirus was detected from the stool samples collected from five cases, three food handlers and 28 service staff, including banquet servers who reported to have continued working while they were ill."



The events that were affected by the Mandarin Orchard outbreak included at least one with food from a different source.

Food for a Dec 2 dinner to celebrate the Jewish festival Hanukkah had been prepared by a separate caterer, due to the guests' special dietary requirements.

In Friday's statement, authorities said that norovirus was found on multiple surfaces, including carpet, tables, chairs, unused table cloths, cutlery and drinking glasses.

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Faecal coliforms were also detected in food samples, as well as Bacillus cereus from environmental swabs taken from other surfaces such as utensils and door handles.

Interviews that were conducted with the staff at Mandarin Orchard also revealed "improper cleaning of vomitus in the Grand Ballroom, and banquet servers had continued to work while ill", the statement said.

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